Embracing God’s Grace

Last week, I talked about how seeing my sister’s dance-recital was awesome as it generated some life revelations. One of those was that “life is messy” and I believe the last couple weeks have really solidified that truth in my heart. I’m a perfectionist so I really hate when I’m not perfect in any given situation and I very much dislike when something doesn’t go according to my carefully laid out plan.

As a teenager, I’d ask my friends what we were going to be doing next. “So what’s happening after that? Will such-and-such pretty thing be there as well? Etc.” I wanted to map life out and get it right, every time. But sometimes, we don’t get it right. Sometimes, we mess up. Other times, others mess up and we fall with them.

Our mutual need for grace is what makes us human – our choice to love or become bitter – what either sets us apart from the world or makes us just like it. It’s a broken system, a painful place with a lot of darkness. And we all only have so much light.

I asked my church to pray for me this week. I asked them to pray for my heart to be filled with hope and life again. I can’t say that prayer has been fully answered, but I can say that I have a gentler, less cynical perspective to the world we live in.

Something that I continually learn is that relationships are hard. I’m deeply relational and and quite emotional and sometimes rather easily swayed. I want badly to fit in with everyone, all the time. While also feeling the tension and desire to stand out and be set apart and respected. It’s an interesting paradox – to be respected,  I must become better than I am. To be human and in relationships, I must love myself as I am and be okay with where I’m at, so that fruit can grow without the crippling weight of crushed expectations and unrealistic dreams.

It’d be nice if I made great decisions every day and if I were 1,000% disciplined. If what I read from Charles Duhigg’s books on The Power Of Habit and on Productivity would lead to immediately gratifying results and wholehearted lifestyle changes. But it’s not that simple – it’s not that easy.

It’d be great if my friends always understood what I was trying to say if I disagreed with them. And it’d be even greater if we always believed and valued the same things, having the same dreams, working and living in the same places; but it just isn’t that simple.

And what if family could always get along? What if my brothers didn’t make dumb decisions and my sisters were more engaged and my parents were less worried? What if I wasn’t so stuck and so naturally focused on self and not on how to best serve and love others, as a way to positively distract myself from shortcomings in order to find my strengths?

What if, can be a great question. And it’s okay to question life – it’s okay to wrestle – it’s okay to struggle. But we can’t forever live in a land of hypotheticals. At some point, we have to engage others. We have to let our hearts bleed. We have to cry. We have to disagree. We have to push and pull and press. But most of all, we have to be.

We have to be there. We have to be present. We have to live. Despite fear, pain, the past, rejection, anxiety, and all of the “tomorrow” worries of life, we have to love.

We need one another. Together, we are better. Together, we can. Separated, we fall.

If we can’t learn to love ourselves where we are at, then how can we convince others that we love them where they are at? If Jesus is not enough for us now, then how will He be enough for them then?

Why are we so afraid to get dirty? So afraid of failure that we don’t even try?

Why do we think that we are not enough because of our past – and then decide to stay there because it’s what we know – it’s who we’ve been and therefore who we are? How can we not realize that’s simply not true? Did God not call us to something greater; did our friends not speak more fruit into our lives than that?

I’ve got more questions than answers; more potential for growth than credentialed success. But I’m ready to grow. I’m ready to learn. I’m ready to engage the world around with me with my ideas. And I’m praying that soon enough I’ll be okay with the idea of failure, because at least I’ll have tried. And I’ll be stronger for it; I’ll see that it’s possible to stand up again.

Perhaps it’s  not so much about the accolades and the goal of “finding yourself”, as much as it is about the journey, and about loving and being in relationship with others. Perhaps part of growing up is learning to love others despite their crap. And to love yourself, despite yours.

So welcome to my spiritual renaissance – to my heart’s journey toward growing up. To my newfound hatred for passivity and my new goal of confronting issues head-on, rather than letting them develop into seeds of bitterness and regret.

This is just a taste of what’s to come. I’m confident there will be so much more.

The night is darkest just before the dawn.

But the dawn is coming. The dawn will come.

And with the dawn there will be light. And light always overwhelms the darkness.

I’ve read the end of the book and Light wins.

So this week (and hopefully onward), I’m Embracing God’s Grace. Will you?

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