So in my quest to reorganize, redecorate and repurpose every square inch of our house (oh, how I wish I were kidding, but nesting isn’t just for the pregnant mom-to-be) I came across a questionable object found at the top of one of my kitchen cabinets.

It was short and shriveled and most certainly there for quite some time. And after I inspected it for a few minutes, I realized what it was.

The missing little smoky!

You see, there was a time just shortly after moving into our home eight and a half years ago that I had an outburst with a bowl of little smokies. I was prepared to roll each one of them in tiny little pieces of dough to bake dainty pigs-in-a-blanket. The perfect appetizer for a sports event.

My mood was sour to begin with because I’m honestly not one for sports. I did it for the hubs and his friends that were coming over to watch fight night. The kind where they kick each other in the face. (Apparently this is considered entertainment in many parts of the US. Who knew?!)

So when the whatever-it-was set me off for good that evening, I slammed the bowl to the counter in a fit of rage and cracked the plastic as sure as if it were glass.  My smokies sailed through the kitchen like tiny, wingless birds taking off in flight.

Tiny, wingless birds that took me weeks to find.

Yes. It was that bad. And I was incredibly ashamed of my outburst. So ashamed, in fact, that I made a little creed in which to follow that promised I would never take my frustrations out on a bowl of innocent food again.

Of course, I can laugh about it now but there’s a bigger point to all of this.

I don’t know what made me mad that night. Actually, I think I do, but it’s not worth diving into and doesn’t contribute one iota to the story. The point, dear reader, is that it was a moment that sent me into a swamp of shame so deep that I continued to sink in it for the next year and a half.

I couldn’t let go. My pride was so wrapped around that one incident that it felt as though I had a parasite – feasting away at all the goodness in me until there was nothing left. I glimpsed in the mirror at how utterly imperfect I was. I’d caused a scene and I was angry and embarrassed about it. Self-pity was overtaking me.

…not to mention I completely demolished my favorite plastic bowl.

It’s funny now. As I find that one, missing smoky (not that I counted or anything) all those memories came flooding back. All that stuff that built up during a time before I rediscovered faith.

Or maybe discovered it at all…

I fell apart at the seams, spilling out everything in me. But after that year and a half had passed, I would become acquainted with a Savior that sewed me back up again with all the right stuff inside. Fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Self-control. How I lacked that on that day of horrific, little smoky drama.

And while I still have moments of milder mannered freakout-modes, I understand what forgiveness looks like. Not just from my husband, who bore the brunt of the outburst. Not just from Christ, who I now know loved me through it all. But from myself.

Learning to love me through all of the not-so-great moments has been the biggest accomplishment of all.

I think this might even be my number one lesson in grace. To love me through the flaws, misgivings, arguments, trials, bursts of anger, bad decisions, ill-spoken words, gossip shared between another, judgement passed against another…

To love me at the end of it all and to extend forgiveness to myself is a good and perfect gift. There’s a shelter for me to run to – when I begin to feel that trap closing in.  I have a place to go and that address isn’t located anywhere near Self-Pity Drive.

So I chucked that little smoky in the trash that day. Glad to finally let the last one go. Glad to send the past somewhere else. Glad to clean the remnant of that angry, rage filled evening and thank God that there is Blood to save me from the mess I made.

This is my Little Smoky Manifesto. I don’t have to sink into shame for such a thing ever again.

Because there is no mess too big for the saving power of Grace…

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***Photo Credit: Andrew Frisbie

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