I had ventured away from grace. And begun to believe the lie that I had to earn everything – everything including love. This worldly perspective has clouded my vision and left me hopeless. If I have to earn everything, then I’ll never measure up. And if I believe it necessary to attain perfection, then I’ll never meet the standards I hold for myself.
Unrealistic. Lacking grace’s perspective.
When I began authoring this blog several years ago, I named it Embracing God’s Grace. It was a period in my life where God’s overwhelming grace was very real for me. It felt warm and fuzzy and mystical. I’d interned with the church I grew up with and invested summers in intensive Bible study and outreach. Again and again, I’d witnessed God coming through.
Then, radio static…
What happened? Did I just up and walk away? Did I lose reception on my cell-phone to the Heavens? A cloudy, dark, spiritual funk settled in and I began to pursue the things of this world. Shady dating relationships, boozy times, and stiff-armed accountability and community became the norm.
But I have good news. God has shown me grace and renovated a solid portion of my heart. He’s melted away much of the hardness due to Allie’s gentleness and love toward me, despite many shortcomings. I’ve seen Jesus in and through her in so many ways. An answer to my juvenile cries for companionship and a partner-on-mission, Allie is a gift.
I share this lurking “darkness” with you because I don’t think I’m the only one that occasionally lets themselves sit in the dark rooms of their hearts. In fact, I think I see it every Christmas as friends and family share stories of tense family moments; moments where everyone wants the world around them to see the good side of them, but somehow the ugly comes out. My patience is lacking, while someone else’s humility hasn’t been seen in weeks. And before you know it, we’re at war with each other instead of at war with the Enemy that’s trying to tear us all apart. And doing so quite successfully, unfortunately.
Perhaps related – or perhaps off-topic (but hey, it’s a blog) – is the exhausting expectations of others on us.
I had a friend that said one of the greatest lessons he learned a couple years ago was the ability to say, “No.” I don’t know about you, but I have a super difficult time telling people, “No.” But I think there’s a lot of freedom to be had there. “Naw, I’m good – we’re gonna do our own thing,” could lead to a free evening to write and read and spend some time allowing God to speak to me.
As an American, I have a tendency to fill my schedule with lots of stuff. Engagement will make any man busy. Even the most diligent, time-aware individual. But still – as I look at all the things that take up my time – there are some outings/engagements that I feel absolutely obligated/tied-to that I don’t think I should have to feel that way about. I don’t want my legacy to be “busy.”
“Dad was a great man…he was always doing something.”
“What did he do?”
“We don’t know – we never really saw him.”
Basically my worst nightmare.
There’s more to life than money and accomplishments. My heart believes it but my behaviors do not.
One of the most humbling realities a man has in his life is when he realizes the idea of who he wants to be doesn’t currently match up with the heart he has. Behavior modification doesn’t necessary work because it misses the heart of the issue. And trying to force a heart-change is like trying to get a camel through the eye of a needle.
So yes – you’re not enough. I’m not either. But I have good news – Jesus is.
More and more so, I’ve been just giving it to Jesus. The old “Bible School” answer ironically is the answer. Let the sarcasm and cynicism begin. I understand because I’ve been there and I still live in that mindset some days.
But friends, Jesus is the answer. His healing grace has saved my life, my relationship, and my eternal citizenship. American now, Christian forever. And even better news – when you give in to Grace, you allow yourself the freedom of accepting love from God and others, and eventually even allow your heart to start loving yourself again. That’s freedom.
It’s time to go back to my writing roots and where things started. Tonight, I’m Embracing God’s Grace. Tomorrow, I will too. This week, you should as well.