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Intentional Grace

By Cynthia Ruchti 

I’m probably the only woman whose appreciation for her husband looks more like a stock market graph than a smooth incline. Up, down, up, up, up, down, down, tanked, up, up a little higher…Boom! He surprises me by doing the dishes. Annnd then he drops the refrigerator on my finger. Long story.

The only one, right?

I’m fascinated by the challenges left to Adam and Eve after the Dumbest-Decision-Ever Awards, also known as The Fall. One of their greatest victories? They remained married.

Selah. In the Psalms, that means “stop and think about that.”

Talk about your selah moments! Adam and Eve stayed married. Sometime after “The woman you gave me made me do it” and “It was the serpent’s fault. He tricked me” must have come a defining moment for Adam and Eve. A future-changing moment. They forgave each other and moved on.

We’re not told the specifics about their relationship, other than that they knew each other, in a biblical sense. Children were born to them. We remember the couple’s sons Cain, Abel, and Seth. But Adam and Eve had many sons and daughters.

Adam died at the age of 930, so we have to assume they figured out how to lean on each other and on the God who promised them a Redeemer. They worked through burnt goat stew and Adam’s muddy footprints on the kitchen floor, through his snoring and her bunions, through midlife crises and menopause.

Living together as long as they did, they must have developed coping techniques for life’s rough edges.

I wonder if Eve raised her voice.

It helped me. Not in the way you may be thinking.

A few years ago, I suffered months of chronic hoarseness bordering on laryngitis. A speech therapist taught me exercises to help my vocal cords heal. I learned to raise my voice. Not yelling. That would have strained not only my vocal cords but my marriage.

I was taught to raise not the volume but the pitch of my voice from the low, gravelly, slack-muscled “lazy” tone we often slip into when we’re tired or unaware of the undue toll it takes, laryngetically speaking.

The sound came out softer, warmer, though the volume hadn’t decreased. And I could instantly feel the relief in my throat.

The other day, when my husband-appreciation line graph had dipped for whatever now long-forgotten reason, I asked the Lord to help me figure out a way to live with the disappointment even if nothing changed. What I sensed in my spirit was a concept: intentional grace.

Grace, by definition, is undeserved. So waiting until my heart felt as if my husband deserved it would have meant missing the opportunity to show genuine grace.

I started by raising my voice.

We’re habitually polite with one another, but my “thanks” had grown routine and gravelly. So I raised the pitch of my voice by a note or two and warmed it without losing volume when I said, “Thank you. I appreciate that” in response to a small, ordinary kindness that followed on the heels of the disappointment.

When he walked through the door later that day, I made it a point to lift my voice slightly as I welcomed him home. And I offered him a forgiving grace he didn’t even know about, because if I’d told him how gracious I was being, it would have turned into something other than grace.

I wonder if Eve learned to raise her voice.

Prayer: God, help me "raise my voice."  Guide me to be intentional and genuine with my grace for others in this life.  And, thank you for covering me with your undeserved grace each day.

Cynthia Ruchti is an author and speaker who tells stories of Hope-that-glows-in-the-dark through her novels, novellas, devotions, nonfiction, and speaking events for women. Her latest Abingdon Press releases are the novel When the Morning Glory Blooms, and the nonfiction Ragged Hope: Surviving the Fallout of Other People’s Choices. You can connect with Cynthia at cynthiaruchti.com or on Facebook. She and her husband of 41 years live in the heart of Wisconsin, where they practice grace on one another.