The Ungraceful Graceful

I had one of those gut-clenching moments a few days ago. You know, like when a pit the size of the Marianas Trench yawns open in that hollow right where the two halves of your rib cage meet. Yeah, one of those moments.
As I hopped over to Emily’s place and scrolled down to catch up on her last couple posts, I glimpsed a sight that took my breath away: the image of her soon-to-be-released book. It’s called Graceful, and when I saw the beautiful cover design, the word Graceful spelled out in delicate script, tears instantly sprang to my eyes.

Because, you see, the book I wrote (yes, the one I’ve been known to refer to as Stupid Book from time to time) was originally called Graceful. In fact, that’s what I still call it in my own mind, even though I changed the title to Leap Year right before I queried Rachelle. That’s the reason this blog is called Graceful – I launched the blog after I wrote the book.
Now, let me preface this sob story by clarifying that my personal Marianas Trench is not in any way a reflection on Emily Freeman. I love Emily’s writing, I loved her first book, Grace for the Good Girl, and I love her (because I tell you, if you read her blog, it's totally impossible not to love her). Furthermore, I have absolutely no claim on the title Graceful, nor did Emily even ever know that my book was originally titled that. Nor, frankly, does it even matter, since my book is not contracted and is still unpublished.

But still. To see the image of that beautiful cover, to see what my dream might have looked like, had it played out as I had imagined and hoped – well, it was painful.
So I did what any woman in her right mind would do. I emailed my good friend to whine and lament.

And that’s where I found God’s good grace in all this. Because when I wrote to Deidra and admitted that it pained me to see that cover, I knew I could tell her the bitter truth because I knew she would still love me anyway, right in the midst of my big, fat, ugly moment. And that’s exactly what she did.

“I love you I love you I love you! Yes!” she emailed right back in a matter of seconds. When I saw those words relief washed over me like a cool mist. And even though the pit was still lodged squarely beneath my rib cage, I felt better. Much better.
“That’s why I love you so much,” I wrote back to Deidra, “because you forgive me for being human sludge.” And it’s true. Deidra lavished grace on me when I was decidedly ungraceful (maybe that’s what I’ll title my next book), and when she did, I somehow understood exactly how God loves me, too.

When's the last time someone lavished grace on you? And isn't it a beautiful thing?!

Patricia W Hunter –   – (March 28, 2012 at 4:18 AM)  

Gorgeous photo, graceful Michelle.

I'm good at putting my foot in my mouth, so I'm quite certain that grace is lavished on me more times than I know...every single day. 

It's humbling...and yes...a very beautiful thing.  xo

Lyli@3dLessons4Life  – (March 28, 2012 at 5:32 AM)  

Good friends who listen, hug, and don't judge are a balm for the soul, aren't they?  -- Looking forward to reading that book (whatever the title may be) on the sweet day where your Eph. 3:20 promise is a book with your name on the cover.  Praying about it for you this morning.  

SouthernGalThoughts –   – (March 28, 2012 at 5:47 AM)  

And this is what I love about you.  You are not afraid to admit what  you are feeling.  We all have those feelings even when we think we could never or should not. Deidra to the rescue!  I love her response to you.  I would so give you a big hug if I were anywhere near you right now.  You are truly graceful.

Mary Bonner  – (March 28, 2012 at 6:22 AM)  

I probably fail to lavish grace as often as I should.  No surprise that Deidra came to the rescue! 

Thank you for your transparency!  I love you friend!

Heidi... –   – (March 28, 2012 at 7:04 AM)  

This resonates... and my heart hurts for you!  

Have you ever self-published? It's do-able!

Rupzip –   – (March 28, 2012 at 7:12 AM)  

A friend gave me a much-coveted ticket to the opening day of the Rockies. He had other friends, but he chose me.
I lost it. I have no idea where it went and I have been looking with shame in my heart.

So I called him yesterday and told him he would have to sit alone.

He quickly told me not to worry -- he knows how to get it replaced, then proceeded to tell me about all the times he has lost things.


smoothstones –   – (March 28, 2012 at 7:17 AM)  

No matter what, you shine.

Wendy Paine Miller  – (March 28, 2012 at 7:56 AM)  

Oh my...this is my favorite kind of love...loving me through sludge love! I get this. I love your honesty. And I love that God can push us through this. ~ Wendy

Jean Wise  – (March 28, 2012 at 8:13 AM)  

I just love your honesty.  Been there right with you.  You did a very healthy thing: you call someone you knew who would listen, understand and love you no matter what.  That is priceless. I know sometime I hold it in and don't express it and then it becomes worse.  You are NOT human sludge  though but a beautiful normal human who can recognize and name her feelings quite well. 

Shelly Miller  – (March 28, 2012 at 8:53 AM)  

This actually made me cry Michelle. Deidra is so good at that, its why I love to read her. But really, its just a beautiful picture of grace, that in spite of the junk we know is in our heart, He still loves us. And sometimes it is hard to fathom. Sometimes the death to something, resurrects in a way that was even better than the original. At least its been that way for me. Thanks for being so honest, it ministers a great deal to this soul.

Amanda  – (March 28, 2012 at 9:11 AM)  

I'd read Graceful or Ungraceful or Leap Year because you're a beautiful writer. God has an incredible story written just for you. Can't wait to watch it unfold.

Jen Ferguson –   – (March 28, 2012 at 9:23 AM)  

I can imagine that would be incredibly painful.  I'm an external processor and I think that God knows that people like us need to get the icky out of our heads or else it will stay there, rambling around forever.  Which is why He graces us with grace and grace-filled friends!

On another note, I'm sorry I've been absent from your link up.  I haven't been able to pull together a Hear It, Use It post, but I plan to be back next week.

Jennifer@GDWJ  – (March 28, 2012 at 9:54 AM)  

Your transparency is always so refreshing, Michelle. 
And yes, I too love Emily's book. I love Emily. But I understand the root of where you're coming from... But I have to say this: Your book is going to be published. Your words WILL land between covers. They will. WILL. Love you.

Megan Willome  – (March 28, 2012 at 10:18 AM)  

I love you, too, Michelle. And when I see the word "Graceful" in my inbox, it just fills me with joy. That's because of YOU. 

Hang in there with the Stupid Book thing.

donnapyle –   – (March 28, 2012 at 10:45 AM)  

I love your beautiful transparency, Michelle. Full of grace. Shining Him so brightly. Hugs!

Fonda  – (March 28, 2012 at 10:49 AM)  

Oh my, how I have lived this testimony!  Just last week I walked into the midweek Bible study group with several dear friends and just unloaded the most ungraceful words...whining and complaining about an injustice I felt from the hands of a family member.  They politely listened, encouraged and then prayed over me.  I left so that they could discuss the lesson without my pity partying self.  Several hours later, my email inbox was filled with words of hope and love.  They certainly showered the ungraceful with grace!

Michelle DeRusha  – (March 28, 2012 at 11:36 AM)  

I admit, I thought twice about posting this. But I figure when I feel these things, especially these ugly things, others must too -- and I think it helps when we realize we're not alone in our flaws.

Michelle DeRusha  – (March 28, 2012 at 11:37 AM)  

I'm not as good a grace-lavisher as I am grace-receiver! :)

Michelle DeRusha  – (March 28, 2012 at 11:38 AM)  

I'm thinking about self-publishing. My agent has put the book on the back burner for now, and I have set my sights on writing a second book that may be more marketable. So we'll see...but thank you for the suggestion and encouragement!

Michelle DeRusha  – (March 28, 2012 at 11:38 AM)  

Oh my gosh, I would have had a heart attack making that call! Isn't that one of the worst feelings? So glad your friend can help -- have fun at the game!!

Michelle DeRusha  – (March 28, 2012 at 11:39 AM)  

You are the sweetest - thank you, friend.

Michelle DeRusha  – (March 28, 2012 at 11:40 AM)  

Yes, love me through the sludge love - thank God for good friends! And for encouragement from lovely people like you, Wendy - thank you.

Michelle DeRusha  – (March 28, 2012 at 11:41 AM)  

I often hold it in, too, Jean, and you are so right- it festers. I felt better spewing my envy and just getting it out so that I could be rid of it and move on. And Deidra...she is just a beautiful person!

Thank you for your lovely thoughtfulness in your comment, Jean. So grateful for you.

Michelle DeRusha  – (March 28, 2012 at 11:43 AM)  

That's exactly what I thought when I was writing this last night, Shelly - that Deidra's love and acceptance of me, even the ugly me, was like a mirror of the grace and love God that lavishes on us every day. I didn't even set out to write about that -- I was simply going to write about the beauty of friendship...and then halfway through I realized, hey, this is grace!  {God knows I'm slow sometimes!}

Michelle DeRusha  – (March 28, 2012 at 11:44 AM)  

Awwww, Amanda. you are so sweet and encouraging. Thank you. I just love how my friends have more faith in me than I have in myself! :)

JosephPote –   – (March 28, 2012 at 11:44 AM)  

...and that, my friend, is why we call it Grace!  :)

Loved this post!

Michelle DeRusha  – (March 28, 2012 at 11:45 AM)  

Yup, external processor here, too - we have that in common, Jen.

And hey, no apologies for the link-up - I didn't get to your place this week either. It happens!

Michelle DeRusha  – (March 28, 2012 at 11:46 AM)  

Jennifer, I tell you, you are the most encouraging person ever (well, you and Deidra are tied for Encouragers of the Year!). Love you right back...

Michelle DeRusha  – (March 28, 2012 at 11:46 AM)  

Ha! Stupid Book thing made ME smile!

Gaby  – (March 28, 2012 at 12:12 PM)  

Your transparency is refreshing, Michelle. 

soulstops –   – (March 28, 2012 at 1:02 PM)  

Love your graceful honesty, Michelle!

Charity Singleton  – (March 28, 2012 at 4:06 PM)  

You are a horrible person . . . just like me! I'm so glad you shared this, and am so thankful that we know the one who washes clean all this muck in us.

pastordt –   – (March 28, 2012 at 5:40 PM)  

Personally, I see nothing the least ungraceful in your response - I see a human response, very human. Your 'dream' took on form in someone else's success/publication. Of course, tears came. Of course, they did. But just a word of encouragement here... your time may not be now. But it is coming. Yes, it is. Believe it and learn to wait with hope - hard as that is!

Glenda Childers –   – (March 28, 2012 at 8:58 PM)  

I am sorry for the disappointment and pain that rose to the surface when you saw the new book. It makes sense to me. My sweet friend, Anne, always says, at such times ... what is God stirring up?

I am glad that we have Graceful:the blog, even though we don't yet have Graceful:the book.

Michelle DeRusha  – (March 29, 2012 at 10:18 AM)  

Oh yeah, foot in mouth...that's me!

leslie  – (March 29, 2012 at 11:22 AM)  

Oh, it's so good to have real friends who remind us of the love of God, even when we are at our most un-lovely, isn't it? (And I can totally understand your gut reaction. It had nothing to do with that actual person/book, and everything to do with your yet-to-be-fulfilled dreams.)

Lori  – (March 29, 2012 at 11:37 AM)  

Oh Michelle, don't you know we are ALL human sludge! I have had my own sludgy moments this week! And I so love you, I can truly say that even though I don't know you :-)

DeborahJoy –   – (March 29, 2012 at 12:52 PM)  

You did a brave thing there.
Grace to cover your heart, and mine.
And abundant blessings to you and Deidra

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