I learned in my 6th grade AWANA class that grace is a free gift that you do not deserve. Out of all the definitions and verses I learned in life, this one has always stuck.
I see other tenderhearted females publicizing the grace word a lot, on cell phone screens, mugs, and decor. For some odd reason I have always rolled my eyes at the word or wrinkled my nose. You see, I’m not a grace person, I’m more like a justice person.Throughout my adolescent years some of my biggest battles with my parents were over fairness. “That’s not fair!” was my favorite phrase. I just wanted,…still want everyone to get what they deserve-whether good or bad.
Turns out being under my justice system is really hard to live with. About a year into our marriage Bobby looked at me after I had gotten on his case again for God knows what reason and said, “Why can’t you ever cut me some slack?!”. I felt that question vibrate through my soul and after following it to the deepest parts of my being I yelled back, “Because I can’t cut myself any!”.
Grace, a free gift I don’t deserve.
My Savior, He’s all about grace. Every breath that I breathe and cinnamon roll I bite into is grace. I’ve done nothing to deserve them. Every hand that has held mine and wave of peace given to me after telling God I’m not super convinced He knows what He’s doing - grace again.
The biggest realities of grace I can’t even wrap my head around. A Father giving His Son. A God-man dying for me on a cross and becoming my Savior. Eternity. Wha?! Blows my mind. I’ve done nothing to deserve any of that.
I want to let my family and friends off the hook. I want to let society off the hook. Throw away expectations and justice and be aware of the grace reality that hovers like a cloud around every single one of us. Turns out you can’t let anybody off the hook if you haven’t let yourself off the very same hook first. Turns out you can’t live in the reality of grace for others if you’re incapable of responding to the grace that has been given to you.
I’m honestly still really looking for ways to let myself off the hook and respond to grace.
Maybe it starts with not believing I’m a failure. I’m always saying to myself, “yah, that was good but not great.” and then somehow that translates into a fail. Maybe it’s focusing on what I can do instead of what I can’t. Maybe it’s being more thankful for the gifts of a capable body, a vibrant blue sky, and friends far and wide instead of grumbling about what I don’t have. Maybe it’s ceasing to strive to become all these crazy expectations and just basking in what I am.
Maybe grace is realizing that what He’s given today in this moment is enough. That’s hard for me to swallow, as I purchase more home decor, read more Bible to “be better”, and seek out more friends and opportunities to fill, fill, fill. That’s hard for me to swallow as I learn of families living in complete fear because of ISIS and see drug addicts holding babies in my hometown.
Are You in both places? Are You still enough? How am I supposed to live in this reality of grace for myself and for others?
I’m daring to believe in a God who is fully grace and fully justice. That He will have the last say on my life and on everything and everyone in between and that if I let Him, He will consistently prove to me that He and His gifts are enough.
Maybe grace is throwing away the justice ruler, the expectations ruler, and any other ruler I can conjure up to measure whether everyone is getting what they deserve, and whether I measure up, am enough, or are am falling short.
“For by GRACE you have been SAVED through FAITH. And this is not your own doing; it is the GIFT of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV
I've always read this verse and let the definition of SAVED be my salvation. But what if it is even more, if possible, than my salvation? What if I’m being saved in my day to day life through being aware of this reality of grace? What if grace is singing over me,
“Ciara, stop doing the dishes. Bobby is playing the guitar. Go be with him. Be present in this moment and not weighed down my some expectation of always having a clean home.”
“Ciara, you don’t have to lose 10 pounds to feel good about yourself. Take care of what I have given you yes, but don’t believe the lie that you will be happier and more beautiful through appearance.”
“Ciara, what I’ve made you to be is enough. Stop comparing yourself and allow me to use the gifts I’ve given you. My plan for you is as unique and beautiful as you are.”
“Ciara, stop punishing yourself for messing up. I can cover your shame with my love. See? ”
“Ciara, my grace is free. F-R-E-E. Stop trying to earn it.”
“Ciara, stop trying to give them what you deem they deserve. Let go of justice. Feel my grace for them.”
“Ciara, stop trying to receive all of your needs from Bobby and then being mad that he can’t meet your expectations. I’m what you need. All fulfillment is in me. Come to Me. I'm the gift.”
“Ciara, they are seeking happiness, love, and fulfillment just like you. They are just looking in the wrong places like you still do a lot of the time. Stop thinking you are better than them and go show them what you have found in Me.”
“Ciara, I know this hurts a lot and is uncomfortable. I know you are questioning what I’m doing. But in this you can feel My arms around you like never before. See? I have a plan. I promise. It’s just not yours.”
Tune my heart to sing thy grace.
When talking to Bobby about grace he told me that grace is one of those concepts where we don't do anything to receive it. Like being in a room with the light on and having our eyes closed to the reality of the light. The light (grace) has already been given, it's just a matter of opening our eyes to a reality that already exists. I love that.