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the thing about grace

Here’s the thing about grace. We NEED grace. I need it, you need it, every single minute of the day. Most of us who grew up in church hear this word all the time, and we become numb to it – just letting it bounce off of our hearts without truly sinking in. The truth is, grace is the most powerful thing we can experience in our relationship with God, apart from His love. Without it, we are completely lost, dead in our sin, with no ability to connect with God.

Grace is a gift. It is not something we can achieve, or work towards. It is not something we are capable of having or giving without God. Ephesians 2:8-9 explains this beautifully:

“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.”

Grace is a gift. Which means we don’t earn it. We can’t earn it. Because the very definition of grace is that it is undeserved and unmerited. The most beautiful part about grace is that even though we don’t deserve it, and even before we knew we needed it, God extended His gift to us, out of His great love. Kind of like when you see something at the store that would be perfect  for your best friend, and you buy it right then even though her birthday is 7 months away (I’ve totally done it before!). God knew we would need His grace before we were even born, and He made it available to us through Jesus on the cross, giving us the chance to open the gift and enjoy a relationship with Him. 

Today I was babysitting, and the two kids were bouncing and throwing a ball back and forth in the house. They ended up knocking over a cup of water and the water spilled on the floor. There are much worse things they could of knocked over, so I just asked them to clean it up and take the ball outside. The younger one insisted that the older one clean up the water, even though she was the one who threw the ball. To compromise, I asked them to both clean up the water together. The young one responded by throwing the ball at my face. Yikes. Now, this is not like her at all…and I was taken by surprise. We both kind of stared at each other for a minute…her eyes looking slightly apologetic but also smug. After making her clean up the water by herself for that little outburst, I realized grace is something we need constantly. Even when we are submitted to God, our flesh still comes out in some ugly moments. When we get angry or afraid or sad, sometimes our flesh reacts faster than we have time to recognize. I was thankful that God gave me grace to be patient in that moment instead of chucking the ball right back at her. Because honestly, I’m not any better than she is. When I am frustrated, I would much rather throw a ball at someone than express it in words. But, thanks to grace, she and I were side by side drawing a picture together just minutes later. 

This is how God is with us – He is not an angry Father that sends us to our room when we misbehave. He does not raise His voice or His hand. He makes us clean up our mess, and then invites us to come and sit with Him, offering forgiveness and mercy that is new every morning.

I needed grace today. I think a lot of times we only think about how we need to show grace to others, being quick to forgive as Christ forgave us. And that’s definitely true. People are not perfect, and we all need to be shown grace. However, I realized today how hard it is for me to give grace to myself. I am a recovering perfectionist (really, I am getting better!) and I have a very hard time forgiving myself or letting things go when I mess up. I can’t stop thinking about it, and I continue to beat myself up, even if the other person has forgiven me (or isn’t even hurt in the first place). I don’t know why I respond this way, other than a desire to perform well. No one likes to mess up, especially in front of other people. But sometimes I am more hard on myself in the moments alone…when I know I have let down my Heavenly Father, or I have let down myself. The truth is, we all have hard days, and days when we feel “off.” God knew we would have days like this, because His standard is Jesus, and we are incapable of living up to that standard! He created us with emotions and feelings, and the ability to think our own thoughts. And He knew that these thoughts and emotions would lead us astray sometimes, because of sin. Hence…grace. I am so thankful for this gift of grace. Because sometimes there is nothing I can do to fix it. Sometimes I just have to accept His gift, and try again tomorrow. No matter how hard we try, we still fall short. Thankfully Jesus bridged the gap so we could stop trying – and He gave us the gift of grace to share with those around us.

So give grace today, even to yourself.