the ugly side of grace

Grace is a miracle.  Poems have been written about its beauty.  Songs have been sung declaring its praise. Stories have been told explaining its power.  And in each of these, there is first something horribly wrong and ugly that is in need of grace’s gentle touch.

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Just over eight years ago, I had the worst day of my life.  My husband told me that he no longer loved me, that he was in love with someone else, and that our marriage was over.  Just typing that sentence still breaks my heart.

We sold our big, beautiful home.  We both hired lawyers and started the divorce proceedings.   I started therapy. Our children started therapy. He started therapy. And I tried to start over.  I rented a small home in the neighboring city.  I tried my best to take care of the kids and create a new normal.   And I cried. I cried about the lies. I cried for my children. I cried at the thought of being alone.  I also prayed.  I prayed for hope. I prayed for joy.  I prayed that my soon to be ex-husband would be hit by a bus.  And secretly, in the depth of my soul, I prayed that by some miracle, we could be together again.

As the months went on, my lying, cheating husband began having a change of heart. Friends and family would come and tell me how he had changed.  How he was gentler… how he had been humbled.  I, understandably, wanted nothing to do with him.  I was not going to be a “weak” woman and take him back.  I remember sitting across from my dear friend, Susan.  She was telling me how much he had changed and how much he wanted his wife back.  I looked her straight in the eyes and said, “I will never, never take that bastard back.”  Without flinching, she replied with perfect love, “I don’t think never means what you think it means.”

The word never did not mean what I thought it meant.  This broken and afraid man had changed and he did want our marriage restored.  He started to pursue me.  He started asking for grace.

I had a huge decision to make.  Do I risk everything and take back a man who had stomped and crushed my heart?  Or, do I risk everything and start my life all over without the only man I had ever loved?  I was afraid, but I knew how I wanted my story to read.  I knew I wanted the miracle.  So, I sided with grace.  It was the most courageous thing I have ever done.  I learned that weak women don’t take their cheating husbands back.  Kick ass women do.


One of my favorite songs is Grace by U2.  Here is the last verse:

What once was hurt
What once was friction
What left a mark
No longer stings
Because grace makes beauty
Out of ugly things

And that is the main problem with grace… it only comes after pain.  Grace can only intervene when there has been heartbreak and hurt.  It was made for the ugly things.

I am not going to lie, it wasn’t easy.  The divorce was so far along, that we had to pay our lawyers to stop it.   For the first few years, many of our days were painful and rough.  However, now that I am this far from the climb out of the ugliest place of my life, I can see the fruit of grace.  My marriage is a place of utter safety and freedom.  My husband and I feel more loved and known than we ever have before, and in a deep and honest way.   We are naturally hopeful in seemingly hopeless situations.  When life throws us or our friends a curve ball, we have hope that love will win and time will heal.  Mostly, we are extremely graceful.  Not only with each other, but with ourselves.

Now, when I hear poems, songs, or stories of grace, I hear my story.  I feel the pain and ugliness that must come.  I cry for the hopelessness that must proceed it.  I morn the dreams that must die.  All the ugly is worth knowing and feeling the fullness of grace… to completely feel hope… to completely feel the rebirth.  I know that choosing grace was not only the craziest thing I have ever done, but also the bravest.  It gave me one of the most beautiful miracles I have ever witnessed… my marriage.


  • Your marriage, your 20th anniversary, your photos, your children, your dog, your cat, your Clayton. EVERYTHING about you two is delightful. And especially your grace and your God. Thank you for calling me friend and thank you for trusting in Him who can do all things. You are my people. I’m so grateful you were brave.

  • As I have said over and over, I love your love story. It’s not perfect but it’s true. I feel so privileged to be your friends and to see God’s grace cover a most terrible offense. loe you.

  • you are amazing Staci. and your words move me every time. i’m so glad to know you. xo

  • Your story is so heartwarming Staci. We, the lucky ones, who have been through the fire, who have been melted down, re-formed, have a purer understanding of that grace of which you speak so eloquently. I’m happy for you two. Thank you for sharing this beautiful story of redemption and grace.

  • You words and your life stories are so incredibly powerful. You inspire many and I’m grateful to be able to call you, friend.

  • dear friend, this post was both ripping through my heart and filling it with wonder and hopefulness, and filled me with every emotion … i can feel this grace within it.
    you are two courageous people who i really, really admire and hope to hug one day. it will happen.

  • This is not the first time I have heard this story, but it never gets less heartbreaking, less brave, or less beautiful. Thanks, “sis,” for everything you and your wonderful family are to me and so many others.

    • And thank you for all your support. You are a wonderful friend and brother. xx

  • Staci Lee, what a beautiful name, beautiful love story, beautiful family, beautiful friend and what a beautiful Godly woman you are. So very proud (forgive me Lord for sinning!!) to get to journey life with you. I adore you, your husband, babies & Henry too. xoxo

  • Staci this is so courageous and amazing. It’s kind of funny, because although we don’t really know each other you get a distinct picture in your head that wow, this is just the happiest family ever. Not a worry in the world. You forget that everyone has a story, be it incredibly happy or painful that you don’t know about. Thank you for sharing. I know that little bit more now. And I’m so glad I do. 🙂

    • To be honest, I think it is one reason we are so happy and so close. Going through hell can really bring a family together. Thank you for your kind words. They mean so much. xx

  • how brave of you to share this story! and I know that the strength you demonstrated and the grace you offered will be a source of hope and inspiration to others.
    i really really love you Staci Lee. but know you know that even if we haven’t locked eyes across a table . . . yet.

    • Thank you! I feel the same about you… the love goes deep. xx

  • Wow! I had heard the beginning and the end of your story, but not the middle. Thank you for sharing your heart and scars. Xoxo

  • I’m just getting to know you, Staci but after reading this i already know that you are one kick ass woman..and so very full of grace.

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