Kirk and I returned home late last night from a conference in Nashville we decided would be our birthday gift to each other this year. (Our birthdays are a day apart from each other in January.)
It was a very refreshing, invigorating time full of laughter, reflection, and great conversation. Also, we got to experience some bona fide winter weather, since it doesn’t really exist at all in Florida where we live.
But as I sat at my desk this morning and reflected on the gift of being back home and able to do my most favorite thing in the world — sit in the quiet with a mug of hot coffee beside me, Diva lingering nearby, and the Scriptures open on the table of my desk — I noticed a crowd of thoughts rushing into the forefront of my awareness that had been kept at bay all weekend.
You didn’t eat well this weekend.
You didn’t hear your alarm go off for the road trip, which is why we left 3 hours later than planned.
You don’t belong in a crowd.
You didn’t interact with other people at the conference much.
And on and on it goes. All kinds of accusing thoughts, seeking to diminish me and make me feel like a failure.
I didn’t eat well. It’s true. Road food is not good for the body, and restaurant eating all weekend wasn’t either. My body feels sluggish and deprived of the fruit and water and simple meals I’ve gotten used to feeding it, and now I must begin the uphill climb to retrain my body what to expect.
I didn’t hear my alarm go off. It’s true. And that first hour and a half after waking up on the day we left for the trip was stressful for us both. We thought we might miss the first night of the conference because we got such a late start out. But it turned out okay. We learned Tennessee is in a different time zone than Florida, so we gained an unexpected hour on the road. There wasn’t any traffic in Gainesville or Atlanta or any other place we thought we’d find it. We made it to the hotel with enough time to get settled in and refresh. And we were more rested while driving than we would have been otherwise.
I don’t belong in a crowd. It’s true. I’m an introvert and prefer one-on-one connections to crowds of two-hundred-plus. But we weren’t there for the crowd. We were there to learn and share with each other what we’d taken in. And that happened in abundance. The weekend offered us what we hoped it would — and more.
I didn’t interact with others much. It’s true. Several networking opportunities presented themselves, and while the crowd busily mingled and chatted, I more often took the safe route of talking to Kirk or just one or two others already seated around me. There were people I hoped to meet, but such meetings never happened. But that’s okay. The people I did meet were nice. I enjoyed those quiet conversations. And my introverted self needed to not get pushed into an extrovert’s world.
I guess what I’m saying is this.
Accusation takes advantage of hitting us at every turn. It tells us what we’re doing wrong or how we’re not doing enough. It points its finger at every nook and cranny and every tiny crevice of our lives. It never, ever, ever lets up on us.
But grace abounds in each situation, too. Grace shows up to carry us through.
I’d rather choose grace over accusation. I’m noticing grace’s invitation and choosing it today instead.
How about you?