Awhile back, I was visiting with my good friend, Sandra, and her two young children in the living room of their home when Caleb, her youngest, unobtrusively sidled up to his mother, as we were chatting, and rubbed his snotty nose on her sleeve. Now, you could say that he didn’t know any better, which perhaps he didn’t, but the crucial point, I think, is that a mother’s love “bears all things,” including snotty sleeves, saliva-soaked shoulders, a lap full of runny poop (on her Sunday suit, of course), a face squirted with warm pee, and the volcanic eruptions of a child’s partially digested stomach (of candy, pop, corn on the cob, and cotton candy following a hot, hectic day at the carnival). And she gracefully bears such indignities with dignity and grace. A Congressional Medal of Honor is definitely in order.
My second example transpired one warm, sunny, summer afternoon while boating. Rex had just boarded the boat dripping wet, having slalomed around the lake, and was toweling off when our newly acquired daughter-in-law, Kristy, informed him that he had snot on his face. Now, snot on one’s face following skiing—especially if you’ve done a nose dive and taken in a face full of lake water—is not uncommon. But passing on such delicate information to one’s new father-in-law is significant, to say the least. Obviously, Kristy felt comfortable enough with “Dad” to broach the subject and take it upon herself to inform him that he needed to wipe his nose. And “Dad’s” gracious acceptance of her remark was equally as significant. I remember commenting, as we all laughed, that this was a sign that Kristy was truly one of the family.
And so, I believe I’ve quite adequately demonstrated the subtle, graceful connection between snot and grace. Metaphorically speaking, life is full of moments when our noses run, catching us unawares and unprepared without a tissue or handkerchief handy. How we handle those moments, both as the one caught in the act of being human, and as an observer of the flaws and frailties of others, reflects our ability to give and receive grace.
I can’t think of any passages in the Bible that talk about snot (thank goodness!), but Scripture certainly has a great deal to say about God’s abiding love and grace. The realization that we are loved and of great value comes, on rare occasions, in the form of an eye-opening, lightning bolt experience – a dramatic exclamation point lighting up the sky of our hearts. Much more frequently, though, a slowly dawning awareness that we are deeply loved is nurtured in the day-in, day-out showers of tiny droplets of human love reflecting God’s incredible love for us. To be able to rub one’s nose on Mama’s or Papa’s sleeve, or to feel secure enough in one’s new family to be forthright (with tact, respect, and a dash of humor, of course), speaks of love on the grassroots level. This is love that grows imperceptibly, day by day, rooting itself firmly in rich, well-prepared, sun-warmed, heart-soil: embodied grace.
Isn’t it good to know that even when we’re feeling or acting snotty, we can sidle up to our Heavenly Father and… well, you get the picture!