My story isn't all that fancy or deep or sentimental.
My story came out of needing a meaningful birthday gift for a 17 year old that means the world to me. But my hope is that this is only the beginning of the story. My hope is that I invested in the meaning and sentiment that is to come in the future sharing and passing of this key. My hope is that grace would saturate and color the world one individual at a time. My hope is that grace would become part of the world's heartbeat.
I have known Audrey probably since she was about nine years old. Her family showed up at the church where I was really involved, especially working with the younger girls. I had her in a lot of classes and in my camp cabin and on my quiz team and quickly realized we had a pretty unique connection. I worked with a lot of the girls, but there were a few of them that became like little sisters to me. Even though I ended up leaving for college and moving away to Seattle we have stayed in touch through the years. I don't have any siblings of my own and so these girls have really become like the little sisters I always wanted but never had. It has been hard to watch them grow up through Facebook and e-mail and so many days I wish we were chatting over iced coffee instead of through text messages. But still we have remained close and grown together.
This year I moved back home to Ohio from Seattle for sort of a sabbatical/transition year. I was so thrilled to be able to celebrate birthdays with the girls for the first time in years! So, of course I had to make them count. I looked around for a while trying to decide on just the right gift for Audrey on her 17th birthday. She's such a lovely girl. She has such a strong, genuine heart and she's smart as a whip, artistic beyond her years and as humble as the sweetest, southern, peach pie. I happened to stumble upon a little display of The Giving Keys in a store at our local mall. I am always looking for unique and sentimental gifts, and I quickly fell in love with the entire concept. Especially spending years in Seattle, my heart for the homeless and desire to reach out to them has grown in leaps and bounds. I surveyed the seven or eight keys hanging there after reading the back story and thought about what word it was I wanted hanging around Audrey's neck and against her heart...what was the message I wanted to begin spreading?
g r a c e
I picked it up and turned it over in my hands. I have always loved the word grace. In fact, I would say that grace is what I have built my life around. Most certainly grace was the message I wanted soaking into Audrey's heart and the one I wanted to gift to the world one person at a time.
So, I wrote her a letter. I told her that 17 was one of my favorite years in life so far and that I wanted to give her a special way to commemorate such a special year. I told her that I chose the word grace because it is the one thing I have found most important in my life to receive and to offer to others. My life is rooted in the love of Jesus which He demonstrated to me through His grace. Grace that I have never and could never earn or deserve. Grace in its purest form that is offered always gladly in spite of how undeserving the recipient maybe be. No matter how many other things have changed and how many more will, His grace will be my constant. I can always cling to grace. And because He so gladly offers me that free, undeserved favor day in and day out, I in turn must learn to offer that same gift to myself and to everyone I encounter. I told her to hang onto that key and let it dangle over her heart until she truly understood it and had learned to receive it daily without the reminder. And then, to observe the world around her and do some people watching and pass that gift along to whoever she felt needed to start allowing grace to soak into their life. I told her that when grace feels the most difficult to offer from a pure place in her heart, it is probably needed the most.
Her face lit up. She held the key in her hand. I could tell she was letting the gift, the meaning, the responsibility of this little key soak in. I could tell she would handle it wisely and with great care and pass it along graciously.
Living graciously fills a world that can sometimes be dark and sad and hopeless with light and life and joy and so much hope. And grace is what I want to pass on with the lovely tradition of our Giving Key.