Grace is not pretty


And is certainly not a girl’s name


“My life is brilliant”

So begins James Blunts’ song “You’re beautiful”. He believes this with such conviction that the second verse to the self-same song repeats this sentiment. There appears to be no doubt in his mind vis-a-vis his life.

And with the same vigour I too believed this about my own life. I had many material possessions; I had a sought-after education that stood me in good stead to earn well. I was able to provide for myself, according to any need that so took me. My life was indeed, brilliant… but empty, and I was seeking.

Seeking what?

Of this I remain unsure, but seeking nonetheless. I was a work in progress, evolving with each new experience I encountered. I contemplated life, its meaning and my purpose. I read books on philosophy; religiously making notes and indexing them. I even went so far as to enroll for a part-time philosophy course. Yet, despite my diligence, the answers remained illusive.

On I sought. With diligence.

Seeking will lead you along a path of discovery, simple enough. But, if you are unsure of that which you are seeking, this path can take you on a roller-coaster ride. Throw in money and boy, make sure you are buckled in tightly for the ride, literally, of your life!

New experiences and temptations continued to present themselves. Not only of a material nature, but also aspects such as – attraction, love, sex. I embraced these new experiences with an ignorance that so characterises a youthful spirit. I placed myself on a voluntary journey that, through experimentation, would teach me much.

My life began to spin out of control. Not at once, but in small, daily increments. Things deemed unacceptable in earlier days, became malleable. Open to interpretation. And review. Leave me alone.

It was my life, right?

Confusion set in. I was still unsure of what I was seeking, but was indeed aware that I had possibly defined it in error. Malleable became downright fluid; and on I spun, on an axis that shifted like a leaf tossed around on a balmy Highveld afternoon.

Drugs became the order of the day.

I suppose that was inevitable. All too soon they became a way of life. They are not what the movies make them out to be, except when you over-indulge and then they are much worse.


On tar standing 3 of me


A particularly low point for me was, when seated in the passenger seat of our car, making use of the car service book to “use” while my partner drove at 120km/hour down the highway. While this in itself was low, it was not as low as the ensuing conversation; when he asked me if I thought that God approved of what we did.

I confidently answered in the affirmative, adding that I thought God would be proud of our willingness to experiment.

I was falling, uncontrollably, inside a deep pit of despair and emptiness. The thing is you become so hollow, devoid of personality, that you don’t consciously realize your plight. Material things that used to bring a sense of joy and achievement, became a burden. Self-destruction became the new order of the day and it took no prisoners.

It was at this point of utter desperation, alienated both from myself and the world around me; at the height of my rebellion against God, here I found grace.

That unmerited free gift of favour that I had done nothing to deserve, but was offered nonetheless. In fact, upon reflection, I had been experiencing God’s grace throughout my life, I had just never seen it for what it was.

Grace, for a time, was not pretty. It met me at my point of need. It accepted me tarnished as I was by a broken life. A life founded on things destined to destroy me. Grace passed no judgment upon me, it merely sought to restore me. Grace accepted me and in so doing extended itself to cover the multitude disgraces I was the sum total of. Grace took on the ugly, the downright nasty things I engaged in, and triumphed over them. Its tears of righteousness cleansed me of inequity.


On tar


How did it come about that grace and I met up? The answer is: I don’t know, save to say that it found me. Grace extended the first offer of love to my own self-loathing. I will in all likelihood never understand, until one day when I meet my Maker, when the intricacies of everyone of our lives are revealed. What I do know is that the gift of grace has been working in my life ever since, requiring only humility and recognition of my wrong doing. As such, I remain a work in progress.

My desire to repent of old sins led to a change in entrenched habits and resulted in my eyes now being firmly focused on a bright, new, wholesome future.

I live now day by day seeking to discover the real me that grace fought and dirtied itself for. I enjoy a saving relationship with Jesus Christ and confidently continue along the pathway of life knowing that, despite the highs and lows, my foundation is firmly anchored in God’s love.

My life is indeed brilliant.



I truly hope that this post, even elements thereof, touch you in some way. Herewith further resources to encourage you, courtesy of Dr Christopher Peppler’s blog Truth Is The Word:

An exception that proves the rule

Elements of the full Gospel


Photography credits: Juliana Mendonca – check out her Instagram account for many more great shots on @juxtaposedjules, also via her photography venture, Always Anchored Photography. Visit it on Facebook or on Instagram @always_anchored


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  1. Oh Ryan! This is so beautifully written – I MIGHT have cried a little.
    It’s similar to my own story, but you wrote and expressed it in a way I never could. May God continue to cover you (and I) in his unending and unfailing grace. Oh what joy that we have found Him!!

  2. This is so profound , raw and honest. It is hard to be real in this day and age…but you are REAL..May our God of Grace be glorified.

  3. Real. Vulnerable yet strong; exceptionally well written. Very proud of you Ryan.
    May you continue to to experience joy and a piece that passes all understanding. God bless you.

  4. Oh Ryan! Such a beautifully written piece on the rawness and realness of Jesus’ grace. Thank you for sharing the deep things of your heart and life. Lots of love

  5. Simply beautiful! Honest and real. I love that God uses the ordinary to bring such deep insight, wisdom, love and grace. Stay blessed.

  6. Reading your story always amazes me how great is His grace to us . You wrote with transparency and yet with such gratitude of what you found . Thank you for your story that will lift others to find Grace . May your life continue to be on this ” life road” sharing Lord.s blessing to so many .

  7. This is beautifully written. Honest without being melodramatic or soppy. I love the photos you use with this post. Like the lights Grace does not cover over the darkness it drives it away. Now you can live in the fullness and freedom of the light of grace shining on you.

  8. Ryan – what a stunning, wonderful revelation you had, that helped you save yourself from yourself. Everyone’s rock bottom is different, yet the epiphany and the relief and the return to life through grace has shared sympathies that unite all recovering addicts as one supportive family. I am proud of you for your recovery, despite never having met you. I am inspired by your journey, because it is my journey – OUR journey. I applaud your decision to be another voice that publicly disarms the myths and demons of addiction and presents both the human cost and the human hope of the story.
    We both know that each day is taken on its own – sometimes each hour. That journey back to life and sobriety runs for a long, long time after we start day 1 of a clean, new life; we’re ever-vigilant, always humble. We do life where once we did drugs.
    Your story touches people; not everyone will comment. The reach of and power and hope that you instill and inspire is not known to you; but your higher power always had this in mind – this is your purpose.
    Keep on keeping on.
    Much love and respect for you and your journey.

  9. Hi Ryan, thanx for sharing your link on Dave’s tandem post of today. What an amazing story. It’s a well written piece free of cliche’s. Thank you for sharing it for the world to see too. We need more of you guys out here telling it like it is. Many people don’t realise what they’re getting themselves in for until it’s too late. I’m reminded of a family member who was unbelievably mad at me about 10 years ago because I discovered her secret. Good thing too because very early on in her experiment she OD’d and we were lucky to get her to hospital on time. That was her turn around point.

    God is good all the time 🙂

  10. Grace. Never would I have associated this word in the way you do. Thank you! Your story, a view of what may have been my brother’s own inner turmoil, losing himself to himself…to this day he has no recollection of his actions. Sharing your journey can only encourage others to hold on to the hope, that change IS possible.

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My name is Ryan and I am a work in progress.

(hello Ryan)

I blog about aspects of life that interest and excite me, those issues that make me think and reflect. These musings I look forward to sharing with you on the blog, as they happen.

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