Grace is undeserved favor. We've all experienced it. It might be that uncomfortable moment when someone forgives us for something we've done or said, or it might come as a gift of remarkable generosity we know we haven't earned.
Being gracious, on the other hand, can mean showing favor and patience and unconditional love when someone has wronged us, or receiving a gift or compliment we really don't want (or feel like we deserve) to accept.
I want to take a few moments today to talk about what grace looks like in my life, and how it has reshaped my character.
Some of you know that 12 step recovery is a huge part of my journey. Learning to inventory each day and be willing to look at my part in conflicts has given me a freedom I never thought I could have. This process starts with looking at and understanding the wrongs that were done to me. This was very difficult. Stating them was one thing, but giving the feelings they produced in me a name was incredibly painful. Becoming willing to forgive the people who had hurt me seemed impossible. But God showed me that I didn't need to feel good about the idea of forgiving those people. I just needed to obey, and do it. The result of that was a transformation that defies explanation. Over a period of months and years, I began to experience healing that was, in a word, miraculous. It flowed through every part of my life, and it became evidence of God's power and the reward of obedience in submitting to His will that I forgive others. His grace, and His love for those around me became mine. It happened, and it remains a part of who I am today. It empowers and convicts me in my relationships, as I continue to make that choice again and again. If we are willing to submit without conditions, to God's command that we forgive those who have hurt us, God will do what we cannot do. He will change our hearts dramatically, and love others through us, and we will be left with the knowledge that that He is real and still working miracles.
But that isn't even the whole story, friend. Because God requires us to let Him show us who we are, to inventory our own lives and reveal our weaknesses and character defects. Intentionally taking an inventory of our lives requires trust and courage. It usually requires another person, because getting honest doesn't generally happen in solitude. Confession is ugly. A true confession omits excuses or explanations, and just calls it what it is. The confessions I needed to make were horrible. I needed, in some cases, to contact the people I had hurt and ask forgiveness and offer to make amends. This was humiliating and terrifying, as I had no idea what their response would be. But God went before me, preparing each person's heart with grace - undeserved favor. He protected me, but I had to go willingly not knowing if He would. And that doesn't mean I didn't get hurt. It just means I knew He had gone before me. And once those burdens were released, I was able to hold my head a little higher, to esteem myself a little more worthy of love, and while none of us deserve forgiveness or reconciliation, I came to understand that God always rewards obedience. It might not look like a reward to us. It might look like another test, or even a punishment, but God's ways are not ours, and even when we don't understand, He is unchanged. His purposes for us are good. He desires us to be conformed into His image, and that only happens when we obey. And we are commanded to confess our sins, to receive His forgiveness through the blood of Jesus shed for us, and to forgive others. What happens after that is on Him.
Oh, friend, there is plenty of grace in God's plan for you. Whatever you are holding onto, whether it is a sin in your life or a wrong done to you, you do NOT have to live this way. I encourage you to have a conversation with God. Tell Him what has happened in your life. Sure, He knows, but telling Him is a choice YOU make to invest in your relationship wtih Him. Confessing your pain, your sin, your hopes and dreams to the Creator Who made you and loves you, opens your life to His power to change YOU. And you will never be the same.
If you need someone to pray with you or for you, please contact me here or elsewhere. I will respond. You are not alone.
♥ Blessings, dear friend
Updated: Aug 7
This is the real longing of my heart. I think I took it for granted in my marriage. But living out our vows meant learning to accept each other, and our life together for what it was, rather than what we wanted it to be. Ron first introduced me to the Serenity Prayer, as he was very acquainted with it. Speaking this prayer to the Lord has helped me accept myself and learn to be patient with whatever process I am in, trusting that God will do the work in my heart. It has helped me to remember that happiness is not circumstantial, but dependent on where my focus is - on the temporal, or eternal. Trying to live out the ideals in this prayer has helped me learn to love and accept myself as I dealt with brokenness in my life. Things like raging co-dependency, addictive tendencies, and recovering from trauma and abuse. Through Celebrate Recovery, I learned to let go of my own will and put the focus on God's. And as I knew myself better, I came to a greater understanding of the depth of God's grace and mercy in my life. Ron was the first person in my life I felt truly knew me and loved me just as I was, and I will always miss that sense of being known by my husband. But God's unconditional love and acceptance is the reason for my hope!
The Serenity Prayer
"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next. Amen." Reinhold Niebuhr
I tried to apply the prayer above to my loss, and here's what I came up with.
I cannot change the fact that Ron died and I am nearly 53 years old, and our life together has been deconstructed. I cannot change the fact that my heart is broken, and I am facing life alone after 22 years of togetherness. I cannot change the fact that no one on this earth knows me as Ron did, in all my weakness and failings and still loves me and accepts me, and calls me their own.
But what I can change is my focus. I can seek out the blessings in this journey, and focus on the fact that GOD knows me in all my weakness and failings, and He still loves me, accepts me, and calls me His own. This is miraculous. If you knew me like God does, you would know this is a miracle. He knows me FULLY. He loves me, and ACCEPTS me. His love changes everything! The blood of Jesus makes me blameless and clean in His eyes, and He calls me His beloved daughter.
I can stay present in today, enjoying each moment as a gift, and accepting my circumstances without resentment or self-pity, and I can surrender to His will for my life and seek my happiness in serving Him and others.
I can dwell on the fact that one day I will see Him and know Him as Ron does, and I will enjoy supreme happiness for all of eternity, because I am with my Creator! Thank you, Lord. You are SO good to me!
I don't know what you are going through in your life, but God KNOWS YOU! He loves you and accepts you just as you are. He loves you so much that He sent His Son to die a brutal death on a cross so that you would not have to be separated from the Father. If you haven't asked Him into your life, you can ask Him right now. It doesn't have to be any particular words or posture. Just tell Him you need Him and ask Him to help you know what you need to do. He will show you. Once you invite Him in, and tell Him you believe Jesus died for your sins and you want a new heart, I promise He will give you one! And the Holy Spirit will help you know what to do next. If you need someone to pray with you, or need someone to talk to, please use the contact me button at the top of the page. I will listen and I will pray for you.
Updated: Apr 27
I'm not going to start with an excerpt from a Dale Carnegie book, or Mick Jagger song, but instead, I want to talk about redirecting our thoughts from the pursuit of relationship, job, etc ideals to what we REALLY want. I'm approaching this topic because I'm in a difficult place in my life. I'm turning 53 this year, and I had spent 22 years of my life with one man, learning and growing together, struggling, and both of us choosing over and over to remain faithful, to not give up through some very dark times. The result of that journey was a sense of togetherness that I miss terribly. And no one can replace Ron in my life. Nor would I want them to. But, for a time, I began considering allowing my heart to be open to someone else. However, the overwhelming thought string has been, "Maybe I'm too old to start over. How could I ever know anyone the way we knew each other? I don't want to settle for less than being truly known by my spouse." Eventually I decided to let the idea go. Over the last couple of weeks, while it might seem I've moved backwards, in a way, I feel more like myself. I'm wearing our bonded wedding bands again, and I don't think I'll be taking them off. Not because I'm not open to God's plan if there is another marriage in my future, but because I still love Ron. He was my match. I am still married to him. He still has my heart. And these rings feel good on my ring finger. I'm still alone, and still grieving, and I need the Lord to teach me how to move forward, but I've stopped looking outward to fill the emptiness in my heart. I am vulnerable, and because I don't want to be mislead, I am seeking His guidance. I thought I would share with you as He helps me unpack these areas of need, and redirects my heart to seek Him for fulfillment.
I've made a list. They might not all apply to you, so feel free to replace this list with your own.
1. We want to be seen and understood.
2.We want to feel loved and accepted
3.We want a sense of hopefulness about the future
4. We want to be valued and cherished
5.We want to prosper and do well in our relationships and careers.
6.We want to be feel safe and watched over
7.We want to grow and improve our lives
8.We want friendship and companionship
9.We want to be forgiven for our failings and our wrongs
10.We want to live with purpose and leave a legacy
1. Being Seen and Understood
As I wrote this first one, my heart cried out, because being married to Ron for 22 years meant just that. He knew me, probably better than I knew myself. He understood me and accepted me as I was. But there is another Who has always known me, and His arms are the ones I fall into now when I feel lonely and need comfort. Today I read all of Psalm 139. Oh how it speaks to being seen and understood! I'll start you off with the first ten verses, but please don't stop there. It will be the best part of your day, I promise!
Psalm 139 1-10 (NIV) 1You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. 2 You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. 3 You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. 4 Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. 5 You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. 6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. 7 Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? 8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. 9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, 10 even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.