“He who thinks that he is finished, is finished. How true. Those who think that they have arrived, have lost their way. Those who think that they have reached their goal, have missed it. Those who think they are saints, are demons.” (Henri Nouwen)

In the pilot episode of Saving Grace, a “last chance” angel, Earl (Leon Tippy, Deadwood), reveals himself to hard living police officer, Grace Hanadarko (Holly Hunter). Yet, by the end of the first season, with an angel personally discipling her, not much has changed in the life of Grace. She’s still drinking, cussing, promiscuous, hard-living, and self-destructive.

Where is the virginal teetotaler that we’ve been conditioned to expect after an encounter with the divine?

Saving Grace drives home a lesson too many of us forget: there no such thing as instant perfection. We’re all works in progress. Take churches for example. They are communities of people shaped by their fellowship with one another around their common belief in Christ. Churches aren’t supposed to be creating these uniform Christians in pursuit of the ideal of community. Have you spent time with these “one size fits all” kinds of people? You get the feeling that there’s only one way to be spiritual. Reality dictates that my spiritual walk and journey isn’t like yours. Life would be boring if we were all uniform and the church even more ineffective if we all had the same gifts. We have a bond in Christ, and the result of this bond should be a loving relationship, the picture of family at its best. Unity in diversity.

We weren’t created to be islands of solitude. This self-sufficient image may work for some, but it is not what we were created to be. We’re born for relationships–be they family, friendships, or colleagues–and that is what shapes us (though the absence of relationships also form us).

Grace is on a slow and long journey. A road of self-discovery as she roots out and confronts the forces that have shaped her into the person she is and then has to unlearn much of what she has come to believe about herself.

To quote Michael Yaconelli in his book, Messy Spirituality:

“Spirituality is not a formula; it is not a test. it is a relationship. Spirituality is not about competency; it is about intimacy. Spirituality is not about perfection; it is about connection. The way of the spiritual life begins where we are NOW in the mess of our lives. Accepting the reality of our broken, flawed lives is the beginning of spirituality not because the spiritual life will remove our flaws but because we LET GO is seeking perfection and, instead, seek God, the one who is present in the tangledness of our lives. Spirituality is not about being fixed; it is about God’s being present in the mess of our unfixedness.”

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