Plenty of Grace
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