When I was a kid, my parents — especially my mom — would often tell me about how she always wanted to name her daughter ‘Hannah’, because she always loved that name for some reason. I used to think my name wasn’t anything special and that it was kind of boring, but now looking back I am so amused by God’s sense of humor and the mysterious ways in which he works.
The name ‘Hannah’ means ‘grace’ in Hebrew, which I always joke is ironic because I am one of the least graceful people you’ll ever meet. But especially in the last year and a half or so, I’ve been learning what God’s grace is and what it means to receive and participate in it. In his immense love for us, God bestows his grace on us so that we can better pursue him in all of his divine characteristics, even in the smallest ways in our every day — things like doing small things for others (almost as little love notes to them that they may or may not see), or seeing beauty in someone, or some thing ,or the sun or the way the light hits the tree, or in allowing ourselves to listen to the little messages he’s giving us in the silence and depths of our hearts, or in doing the right thing, or in recognizing what our vocation is at that point in time and saying yes to it (like being a student and studying for finals with a grateful heart that I even have the opportunity to do so).
“Grace works best on messy people.”
We receive his grace in various ways, but when we receive it, it’s like being showered in strength and dignity and the ability to pursue him. I never really was able to feel that until I studied under one of my favorite professors who showed me that God’s omnipresence is unexplainable in its fullness using human language, but in a sense it’s like the silver lining of light that radiates out of all things, constituting and supporting its very essence, making it good. And when I receive his grace, I can feel that warmth, that connectedness that I have with him through grace, and that necessity that he is. And I feel so thankful that I was named for that.
They say that the beginning of wisdom is to call things by their right names. If that’s true, I’m not quite sure what my parents were thinking when they named me after this amazing gift that was bought for us through Christ’s life and death, but nonetheless I’m thankful for it. It’s a constant reminder of what I have in my relationship with Him. It’s a constant reminder and motivator for what I’m running towards. It’s a constant reminder that even though I am a loud, messy, chaotic person, grace works best on messy people, because it has more raw material to work with, as when our hearts and/or lives are broken — even in little ways — it allows room for Christ to fill the cracks. And that can only happen if we have the grace to allow it to.
“For of His fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.”