Grace, Given.

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I’ve been hearing a lot about grace lately. When the same word or idea presents itself over and over again, eventually my ears perk up and I realize that there’s something for me here. At first, it was the fact that I have RECEIVED grace, and Jesus died so that I could have it. He bore the weight of all of my sin, forever, so that I could be blameless before God. This is a big deal. Then it became the idea that if I have received grace, I should also GIVE grace.

Jesus told this story of a guy who owed a ton of money (like a TRILLION dollars worth of money), and after begging and pleading, the king actually forgave him of it. He gave him GRACE. Then this dude went out to people who owed him money, (like a couple hundred dollars) and even after they begged and pleaded, he threw them in jail until they could pay. Once the king heard about this, he was furious! Grace etiquette had been broken. This guy received grace at a high cost, but when given the opportunity to extend grace, he chose not to.

I had to ask myself, what do I chose? I thought, surely I choose to extend grace.

Jesus was waiting for me to ask this question.

Not an hour later, I got a phone call from someone I haven’t talked to in over 9 years. For good reason.

Long story short, when I was 18 my great-grandmother passed away, leaving me a trust fund my grandparents had set up for me when I was born, and everything in their home. Including furniture, pictures, clothing, jewelry. All of this was stolen from me, by family.

I ended up with a couple pieces of moldy furniture, and some costume jewelry that they claimed were wedding rings. My aunt was wearing my great-grandmothers wedding ring as she asked me to sign that I had received everything in full.

I was young, and naive. Thinking that people who once loved me, would always have my back. I was wrong. And I got screwed. My grandparents had a lot to give, and a lot to be taken…and it was all taken.

I didn’t care about the money, except that Babu and Papap wanted me to have it. They thought my education would be paid for, that they were setting me up for my future. I wanted to wear my grandmothers wedding ring on my wedding day. I wanted to sit in the chair my great-grandfather sat in EVERY day and smoked his cigars in. I wanted to hold pieces of them that reminded me of my time with them. The glass grapes my sister and I always got yelled at for playing with. The mink scarf Babu would delicately place on my shoulders as I twirled in her mirror. Memories of summers spent with grandparents. History. Family.

This phone call, was from one of these family members. All of the sudden, I realized I had NOT forgiven them. Even though it didn’t harbor on my mind, one second of their name appearing on my phone flooded my heart with anger and bitterness.

I was reminded quickly that those who receive grace, extend grace. And all of the sudden that question I had asked earlier was given a different answer. When given the opportunity, do I withhold or extend grace?

I didn’t like my answer.

Jesus said that we should forgive over and over and over and over. Seventy times seven. But can I forgive this transgression, just once? Forgiveness is not free. If someone steals from me, and I forgive them, I am saying, “It’s okay. I’ll pay the cost.”

What a difficult thing to say. But Jesus did. For all of us. The cost of offering us grace was death. I mean, someone FREAKING DIED FOR ME, and I can’t let a few thousand dollars go.

So I’ll think I’ll be focusing on grace. Memorizing it. Swirling it around in my mind, and absorbing what it means. Maybe if I soak it in, I can pour it out. Not forgiving, not offering grace, those are chains I put on myself. I want to be free.

Jesus. Thank you for offering me grace. For forgiving me the millions of times I’ve needed it. For dying for me so that I can come to you clean and new. Help me to see what that looks like, and help me to offer that same grace to the people around me. I want to rejoice in opportunities to extend grace, because it’s opportunities to be like You. Bless my family. Heal my family. Soften their hearts to receive love. Never stop chasing after them, and never let them forget that they too are forgiven. No matter what.

People Pleasers Who Hate Pleasing People

It’s a dilemma. A HUGE dilemma. I love defying expectations and hate doing things just so that so-and-so can be happy / comfortable if those “things” don’t make any sense, but I am in complete shambles if someone doesn’t like me. I mean, it is the WORST if someone doesn’t like me.

So I am very confused.

What does a people pleaser do if they hate doing things just to please people? They freak out. All the time. About everything. And they argue with themselves a lot. I mean, it’s a real mess up in here.

For example: Family coming to visit this weekend was a HUGE meltdown waiting to happen. (Okay, it happened, twice. Or maybe more, but who’s counting.) On one hand, I want to make sure that they have a good time, that all of their expectations and needs are met, they have the food they like, the activities they enjoy, the air temperature they prefer. But on the other hand, why do I have to bend over backwards because they need GREEN apples, not red ones. Butter, soft and unsalted. Hawaiian Punch to drink, because water/lemonade isn’t right. Oh, and that loaf of bread? It looks weird.

I woke up at 4 AM the first night, paranoid over expectations and feelings. The pizza took 55 minutes to get here, did they even WANT pizza anymore? I should have picked different pizza!!! What do we do tomorrow? Will it be too hot? If it is, then what? Oh my gosh, do they hate it here? Do they regret coming? Who cares anyway, I’m doing the best I can and that’s all I can ask. So what if my bread doesn’t look the same as their bread. GET OVER IT. But I want you to be happy, and for what I have to be ENOUGH for you!

I just want to be enough.

BOOM. I just want to be enough, and I hate not being enough. If you aren’t happy with me, or what I have to give you, I feel like I am not enough for you. So I try to make you happy because I NEED YOU TO SAY that who I am, what I am, is enough. That you don’t need a constant smiley face, the perfect response, or the perfect brand of cheese.

And therein lies the dilemma. I hate pleasing people because I just want them to be satisfied, and say, “it’s okay, what you have here is enough.” But I don’t feel like enough, so I want to please them so they’ll say, “wow, what you have here is enough.”

The crazy thing is, this all goes back to something I already know, and I already tell myself over and over. Humans are flawed and damaged. (Hell, I’m flawed and damaged.) I cannot, under any circumstances, seek my sense of approval from other people. THEY will never satisfy my unending need for love and approval.

So why do I keep going back to this? I obviously haven’t learned how to receive my worth from the right place yet.

Jesus said, “My grace is sufficient for you”. And Paul prayed in Ephesians, “that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” 

Filled to the measure. No worry. Sufficient. Yes, I want ALL OF THAT.

I learned an important lesson today, and that is that I haven’t yet learned how to receive my identity and His son/daughter. What a tough lesson to learn, and what a difference it will make when I do! I pray that this sinks in, the God continues to show me how high and deep His love is, that I learn to receive that as the source of who I am, and not the opinions of other people. That I would have the grace and love to extend to those who come against me, and to walk in the freedom of knowing that I am flawed and equally loved.






I stumbled upon this scripture and this song today. There is no coincidence, God is doing a good work!  I can’t ignore the good work that God has promised to continue. He has so much to say to me, I only need to be still, and listen.

Psalm 103

1-2 O my soul, bless God.

    From head to toe, I’ll bless his holy name!
O my soul, bless God,
don’t forget a single blessing!

3-5 He forgives your sins—every one.
 He heals your diseases—every one.
    He redeems you from hell—saves your life!
   He crowns you with love and mercy—a paradise crown.
    He wraps you in goodness—beauty eternal.
He renews your youth—you’re always young in his presence.

6-18 God makes everything come out right;
    he puts victims back on their feet.
He showed Moses how he went about his work,
opened up his plans to all Israel.
God is sheer mercy and grace;
    not easily angered, he’s rich in love.
He doesn’t endlessly nag and scold,
nor hold grudges forever.
He doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve,
nor pay us back in full for our wrongs.
As high as heaven is over the earth,
so strong is his love to those who fear him.
And as far as sunrise is from sunset,
    he has separated us from our sins.
As parents feel for their children,
    God feels for those who fear him.
He knows us inside and out,
keeps in mind that we’re made of mud.
Men and women don’t live very long;
like wildflowers they spring up and blossom,
But a storm snuffs them out just as quickly,
leaving nothing to show they were here.
God’s love, though, is ever and always,
    eternally present to all who fear him,
Making everything right for them and their children
as they follow his Covenant ways
and remember to do whatever he said.

“Freedom reigns in the place, showers of mercy and grace, falling upon every face, there is freedom.”

As I sit here, listening to this song and reading this Psalm, I can’t help but be OVERWHELMED by what I feel God saying to me. I’ve been in a very dark place these past few months, a place that God had me in, a place where I needed to actually SEE the darkness around me, accept it, and be willing to do the work to break it.  I can’t even begin to describe how exhausting it is to uncover YEARS of trauma and struggle and saying, “I have to deal with this now. I have to learn how to work through this.” All of my natural tendencies of fear and hurt are still there, it is not a work done overnight. But God’s promised the work that he began, He WILL continue. And I have hope, and I have faith. I have faith that I will prevail, that the bonds will be broken, that God will heal my heart, heal my mind. I have hope that one day, this will be over and there will be FREEDOM. Amen. (Let it be.)

Season of Healing

I’ve already posted about Grace in Hardship, but it seems that I still have more lessons to learn. GOOD lessons! See, I’ve been through a lot, and I’ve endured a lot, and now I am healing a lot. And man, oh, man, is God showing me a lot of beautiful things because of it.

1.) Healing takes time. I’ve often thought when having to “work through something” that the process should just GO QUICKER. I mean, once I’ve decided to forgive someone, can’t that issue just go away? Or once I’ve realized that God’s healing a wound from my past, can’t it just be healed, like immediately?  But just like our physical wounds don’t heal immediately, neither do our emotional ones. And why is that? For me, I’ve found that that’s God’s GRACE. Oh how beautiful and sweet it is. My healing process is slow, and it’s painful, and it is freeing. It’s God leading me by the hands slowly. I get the picture of a small child holding her father’s hand while they walk through a dark room to get outside, where it’s light and refreshing. You walk slowly, and he guides you because you’re scared and unsure and sometimes, it just takes time. The Father knows what’s best, he sees the other side, and he knows how to get there. You just gotta keep holding his hand and follow, whatever that pace may be.

2.) I am not broken. For a REALLY REALLY long time (okay, up until two days ago) I had this sinking fear that I am completely broken and always will be. That the moment I think I’m healed and healthy, some other nasty and ugly thing will poke it’s head out and prove me wrong. That I’m doomed to fear and failure. That, perhaps, I’ll just have to learn how to cope better. But a wonderfully wise woman reminded me that we are NEW CREATIONS and we were created in His image. That God’s plan is to redeem us and bring us a new life, life that if full of hope and purpose. Not doom and gloom. So even though I’m flinging off the muck from my past, eventually, that muck will end. And sure, I’ll probably acquire some new muck along the way, but it certainly will not be as difficult as the muck that’s been buried deep for a really long time.

3.) It’s not about where you’ve been, or even where you are. It’s about how far you’ve come and where you’re going. I heard this football analogy recently, and while it may not be the BEST, it’s a good visual. Imagine your life is like a football field, and the whole purpose is to get to the other side to score a touchdown. Some people start out by getting the ball on the 25 yard line and some people get the ball in the parking lot! But if you’re moving forward, yard by yard, you’re all in the same race, wherever you first got the ball. So, I may have gotten the ball way back on the 2 yard line, but I shouldn’t be discouraged. I’m MOVING FORWARD.  And I have people helping me make the right plays to advance. (Gah, I love when I can tie God in with Football.)

4.) Not everything is God’s will, but God uses everything for His purpose. It’s easy to be angry about sins that are committed against us, pain that people caused and walked away from without a scratch to themselves. It’s easy to be bitter and scream at God “WHY!?!?” But “why” is the wrong question for me to be asking. There may not even be an answer as to why, or the answer may be incredibly complicated. Perhaps I’ll find that out someday, but for now, my question is “So, what now?” How do you heal this and use this? How can this be for you? I have amazing people around me who have experienced tremendous pain, and that pain, the story of healing from that pain has helped heal my own. I’ve developed community and known a deeper more tender side of God because of it. I honestly don’t know that I would opt out of those experiences if I couldn’t keep what I have now…Community, relationships, love, wisdom, faith…those things I treasure and I LOVE that they have come from an ugly place. It reminds me of how nature rebuilds itself. Forest fires result in MORE LIFE and FRESH GROWTH. Often, when we abandon something, nature takes over and makes it even more beautiful (I could babble on forever about the parallels of our physical world with our emotional and spiritual ones. I LOVE IT.)

Yeah, there’s a lot of lessons. And I’m sure there’s more to come…