1 Corinthians 13:4-7New Living Translation (NLT)
“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”
I tend to over think. I stare at this computer screen with a million thoughts, blog post titles(actually, more like topics, I suck at titles. This post is currently titleless), ideas, posts I feel like I should write(nice, colorful, helpful content with running shoe reviews and workouts complete with how to video’s etc). All stuff I enjoy talking about, but sometimes I’m just not sure which to pick.
I over think.
But today, I know exactly what to talk about.
And that is grace.
I’ve always been a thinker. I’m not curing cancer or solving major equations, so I’m not saying I’m smart or deep or this serious intellectual. No. But I get lost in my own thoughts. It comes with being a bit of an introvert. I like to be near people, but I also appreciate being alone. Those two things don’t always go hand in hand. In fact, they sort of feel like opposites to me. How can I possibly be both of those things?
On one end, I tend to want to be friends with everyone. I want to help everyone. I want to listen to everyone. I want to be all things to all people. But hello, that’s impossible. We can’t be all things to all people. On the other end of the spectrum I tend to get overwhelmed with all the doing and the being. I need space. I need aloneness(it’s a word). I need quite and still. I need music and my journal and my Bible or a good book. I need to retreat. This can often come off as rude or anti social or that I am in fact NOT interested in getting to know people. I struggle to find myself between these two ends of the social spectrum. I never really know where I will land on a given day.
I grew up a bit of a performer. I could have been in drama or theatre I supposed because I lived in a world of fantasy. I’m a dreamer. A doer. A pleaser. An easy-going people person, or so I was told. I learned to do. The thing is, in all my doing I formed the opinion, even though I knew it was contrary to all I knew to be true, that my works determined my value and my worth. I think a lot of people, women especially, struggle with the works. We like to do all the things. We like to be all the things. We want to be on top of it, smart, punctual, never tired, never needing a break or a chair for crying out loud, funny, beautiful, thin and wrinkle free, unscarred by age or circumstances. We are to have perfectly manicured(um. Have you seen our Lila? Manicured in mud perhaps, but that’s about it ha!) children and never lose our cool. We are to provide all the meals and be everyone’s best friend. We perform, or at least I do. And then, all of a sudden, we realize we simply can not do it all. We can not be it all. And we can not win everyone’s affections. And when this happens, we realize how in need we are of one thing…..
Grace could be described as free and unmerited favor. Favor is an act of kindness beyond what is due. The theme? It’s undeserved. It’s not earned or won. It’s not worked for. And as people, it’s something we are all in desperate need of, because we are all imperfect. We can do nothing, I repeat NOTHING to earn grace. It’s simply given.
I think we tend to make assumptions about who people are based on what we see. For example, someone might see that I’m a bit of a homebody or introvert, maybe I don’t say hello when I pass by, so they form the opinion that I’m rude. Someone else might engage with me when I’m in a people sort of way and form a completely different opinion of who I am. Other’s stick around long enough to extend the grace through the parts of me they may not understand and decide I’m worth getting to know, and in those times deep friendships and relationships form.
But, I have to remind myself that I can not be all things to all people. I can not be everyone’s best friend and be the wife I need to be to my husband and the mom I need to be to my kids. Flawed, imperfect, and daily in need of large doses of grace, I can not be all the things. And neither can you. So let yourself off the hook. And let others off the hook. Let go of the shame that creeps in when you disappoint someone. When you know someone has formed an opinion of you that is, in your opinion, inaccurate, turn to what you know is true. You are valuable and worthy just the way you are. Take the time to do a little inventory of anything in your life that could stand to be changed or worked on, but don’t lose sight of your humanity. It’s ok to be imperfect and it’s ok to need grace. But we also have to be willing to give it.
We are all imperfect beings in need of grace. And we are all imperfect beings in need of being grace extenders. I need to extend the same grace I crave to those who have hurt me or who simply don’t like me. I need to extend grace to my husband when I feel he offends me or to my kids when they are selfish or insensitive. Or just plain annoying. We need to be extenders of grace, because we are all recipients of this gift every day. It has to go both ways. And God has given us abundant and amazing grace. How can we accept it from Him and refuse to give it away to someone else?
We. all. need. grace. And we can give it because He first gave it to us. We can accept it because we know that shame and defeat do not own space in our lives. Here is what I know to be true in the midst of all of my imperfections, and friends, they are MANY……..
God’s grace is sufficient.
God’s love is abundant.
God’s forgiveness is never ending.
God’s patience is miraculous
God’s mercies never fail
God is enough. And His grace is sufficient for us. Period.
So, are you a grace giver? Am I? Do you or I receive well the grace we so desperately need? Are we willing to admit our flaws and all of our junk? In doing so, do we recognize that other people have junk and are also in need of massive amounts of grace and forgiveness? I hope so. It’s something I’m working on. Some days are easier than others, but I’m learning. I’m learning to call my sin and my struggles by name and to judge less. Because we are all human. And we are all in need of grace. But we are also made in the image of the King, loved and cherished by Him. Not one more than another. Not because of anything we do or don’t do. But simply because God is love. And we love, because He first loved us.
“Jesus is patient and kind to me. Jesus is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude to me. Jesus does not demand His own way. Jesus is not irritable with me, and He keeps no record of being wronged by me. Jesus does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Jesus never gives up on me, never loses faith in me, is always hopeful towards me, and endures through every circumstance with me.”