I came across this quote from Gerald May on St. Augustine this week and man, did it pierce my soul. “God is always trying to give good things to us, but our hands are too full to receive them.” As I contemplated what I fill my hands with my first thoughts were “things”, stuff, possessions. And I know that there are “things” that I cling to but as my mind continued to process, my thoughts turned to other “things”. While material things can fill my hands for a while, I find that I grow tired of them quickly and move on to something else. The things that I hold in my hands long term are immaterial, things like shame, guilt, anger, resentment.
The quote goes on to say that the things our hands are full of are addictions and it’s not just our hands that are filled, but also our hearts, minds and attentions. I may cling to a new toy for a while but almost immediately my grasp loosens as another shinier toy catches my eye, but shame is something I can cling to forever. I can have trouble remembering what I had for lunch yesterday, but I remember clearly what a family member said to me years ago that hurt me. Why? Because I refuse to release resentment from my clenched fists. These things, shame, guilt, anger, resentment and other poisons to my heart, these are the things I am addicted to and refuse to release.
The quote ends by saying that these addictions and things I grasp so tightly are the things that fill the spaces where grace might flow. What value is found in shame and resentment? None. These things are poison top my soul. What would happen if I were to open my hands and release the things I have held to? “It would open a space where grace might flow.” As grace flows through my hands it begins to wash over me. Grace washes away these poisons I have held so close. Grace and shame can’t co-exist in the same space. Grace says that I am loved and forgiven. Self-condemnation and self hatred are replaced with the knowledge that I don’t have to perform. I am accepted. As grace flows over my life, I can’t help but exhibit it towards others. As I am enveloped in grace it becomes impossible for me to continue to cling to resentment.
Jesus, help me to open my fists and feel your grace flow over me. Help me to direct that grace towards those that have offended and hurt me. May we both experience your peace. Set me free from these addictions that poison my soul. Amen
If you’d like to talk, feel free to reach out at email@example.com.