I’ve long cherished my gifts of understanding and forgiveness… an ability to let things slide and move forward or not take things to heart that may have stopped others in their tracks. So as I started to hear and listen about Grace, I thought I understood the concept.
This week, like a fantasticaly orchestrated surprise birthday party, I was met with a symphony of thoughts, passages, articles, and discussions that instead of yelling “Surprise” and throwing confetti, gently took me by the heart and quietly brought me to my knees with the culminated conclusion that forgiveness is earned (or rationalized), but Grace is simply given. Tonight, I Got5onit…
I had been under the impression that God was the only one who really does the Grace bit, and that it was just the christian word for God’s flavor of forgiveness, a forgiveness bigger than what most of us are capable of. A friend blogged her “Grace story” (her testimony she gave in church) that challenged readers to think about to whom they should ask for or give forgiveness, as God forgives our many trespasses through his Grace. Another friend posted a link on forgiving one’s self… and through that, we might find forgiveness for others more freely… I listened to a coworker’s struggle to forgive a neighbor and prayed he’d find a different course of more forgiving action than the legal action he was pursuing (admittedly a rerouted judgment)… and beyond these and a few other tips, a close friend and I got into a deep discussion leading to a discussion about something we did at the age of 19, that we now find rather unforgiveable. And this unforgiveable moment and action was directed at another close friend, who has somehow freely forgiven me, when I truly haven’t earned it. And then it dawned on me… she has given me… Grace.
Grace isn’t when you say “it’s ok, we were kids” or forgiveness that follows mental olympics to understand what happened. Grace is loving and letting go outside of the “facts.” Grace is embracing someone even though they haven’t acknowledged their true accountability for your hurt. If you truly think about it, it’s a lot harder to give Grace than it is to find a way to forgive.
***And time… but I can’t help but close below…***
I drink a brand of tea whose bags include a tag with a phrase (like a fortune cookie). My favorite this week was “Strength does not lie in what you have; It lies in what you can give.” When I read it, I pondered it, wondering how one would have to be strong in order to give and what giving would show strength, beyond the obvious strength to give of yourself through time and/or money. It is so clear to me now, that we are our strongest when we learn to give Grace… the most precious resource of all. And now, thanks to that symphony of thoughts, passages, articles, and discussions, and the example of a very dear friend (and other examples I have recognized since) I recognize that we actually all have that ability to learn to apply Grace, especially when forgiveness seems so difficult to achieve… and in doing so, grow one step nearer to living in his His image.
We are theoretically unworthy sinners but through Christ we are worthy beyond measure. Our worthiness and salvation comes through our faith in what Christ sacrificed for us (his life!), not through rigid following of laws… how freeing! Not freeing to do whatever we please, but free to live in the sunshine, rather than in a shadow of shame. Our “shame culture” as Brene Brown calls it in her book “Daring Greatly” is what I believe is at the core of so many of our heart wrenching issues… It eats away at our perception of our worthiness. And upon listening to her and reading from her, I’ve been taking steps to be shame resilient, and recognized that as a child of God, I am worthy, flaws and all… and with that, I strive to live more and more in His image and be part of a growing body of Christ determined to help God mend a broken world… Dear reader… you too are worthy, flaws and all, of God’s Grace… and so is everyone around you. I challenge you today to deeply consider the gift of Grace that has been given to you and how you might give that gift to others!
So thankful for the opportunity to interact with these ideas and grow personally and spiritually, with new appreciation for several people in my life, and in particular the two wonderful women who are part of that story and are so close and dear to me, and with new strengths to strive for. all the glory to God, as it would be difficult to call this symphony a collection of “coincidences” as usual.
A few of the resources that came through this week:
and comments in response I learned from …
“Grace–from Greek “charis”–GIFT!”
“Forgiveness is “letting go” or “leaving it behind” or a liberation and this acronym: Leaving It Behind, Ever Reaching Ahead Toward Incredible Opportunities Now.”
Dear friend’s blog post: http://mylifeaslori.wordpress.com/2013/07/08/my-grace-story-aka-what-is-a-testimony/
And what is truly my favorite Bible passage (so far) and so relevant…
Galatians 2:19-21 (NIV)
19 “For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”[