Accepting the Devine Gift of Grace
I spun out of control a few nights ago, I broke. I cried uncontrollably huddled on the bathroom floor as I questioned why anyone would love me. I rocked back and forth and pleaded out loud “I can’t do this anymore, I can’t feel this way anymore” You might be wondering, feel what? You might even be thinking your life is beautiful, what is wrong with you? You’re not alone; I wonder the same things. Here is the back story in a few simple words; I disappointed the love of my life. I failed to be ‘perfect’, and so I unravelled. Of course, my breaking point didn’t come because of that one moment in time; my breaking point had come to a head after many moments of failing to reach perfection. For weeks, those feeling of failure, had consumed me, quietly, internally as I tried to push through and give myself Grace. Quiet, self-inflicted, disappointment mounted to that night in the bathroom.
You see, I have this ideal vision for myself; perfection. I need to be everything to everyone, even when it’s hard. I need to prove that I can, and when I fall short of achieving perfection, I punish myself. I feed myself with negative stories. I tell myself that I am not enough and that I am not worthy of love because I fall short “so often”.
It’s a terrible habit I have created. A pattern I try (on a regular) to break; clearly with little success.
The cycle goes something like this; I can feel self-doubt creep in, I tell myself all the ‘positive mantras’ that the world says should be enough to help let go of the feelings. I convince myself to ‘let it go’ (whatever that means), and I choose to live in a place of gratitude. All of those beautiful tools are supposed to work, right? Oh, how I wish it were that easy. Unfortunately for me, as quickly as the sun sets and the dark of the night rolls in my fears take over. I trap myself in the darkness I have created, and I slip into the darkness that fear produces not only in our minds but in our hearts and souls.
Fear quickly takes control. At that point, my emotions are like a runaway freight train with no breaks. My ability to give anyone the benefit of the doubt (including me by the way) disappears, and then it happens. The sinking feeling that I am alone in all of this washes over me.
Did you ever sit on a swing as a child and have your friends spin you around until the swing is so tightly twisted that when they let go, you spin wildly out of control? Well, my friends, that is precisely how my fears reveal themselves to me; like a tightly wound swing spinning wildly out of control. In those moments, I need so much more than myself.
Whoa, that’s a lot of reflection to read, keep walking with me here. I promise there is a point to my vulnerability purge.
An Answer is Given
As if He heard and felt my struggle, a message from my beautiful missionaries came through on Whatsapp. They sent me a link to listen to: His Grace Is Sufficient by Brad Wilcox. They felt I needed to hear his message. Little did I know the Lord was sending me a personal message through them.
I must make it known that I didn’t have full intentions to listen to the talk; I thanked them and said I would when I had a minute. But as I sat down to write, I thought I would “do them this favour” and listen so I could say I did. I stopped in my writing tracks; I felt a warmth wash over me, a feeling that I have come to learn that only the Holy Ghost could give. I knew I needed to hear what Brad Wilcox had to say about Grace.
His words got me thinking. We hear a lot about “grace” on social media, heck even I have written these words “give yourself grace, you’re doing the best you can”. At times I believe it. I will talk to myself and say those exact words, and I will repeat them until I can convince myself that I believe them. Then I go about my day clinging to those words. The reality is this; I want to think that if I do my best, it is enough (I am enough), but that’s not the case. I don’t honestly believe this. I often wonder who will fill the canyon sized gap between my shortcomings and my desire to obtain perfection? I lean on Grace, or at least that’s what I tell myself.
Let’s look at the definition of Grace:
a: unmerited divine assistance given to humans for their regeneration or sanctification
b: a virtue coming from God
c: a state of sanctification enjoyed through divine assistance
Nowhere in the definition does it mention that Grace is something we give ourselves. The question becomes, do we rely on the Grace ‘we say we give ourselves’ or do we need to look beyond ourselves for true Grace to be felt and received?
When you read the definition of Grace, the word assistance strikes me. Assistance is the action of helping someone with a job or task. Is giving ourselves (or anyone else for that matter) Grace too big of a task that we need ‘assistance’ in achieving it? And if this is the case, then we (by definition) can’t give ‘ourselves grace’.
Thayne walked into the kitchen just as I hit what most writers call a “writer’s block”, but for me, I hit the “vulnerability block”; a block that happens when letting myself be honest with myself about my feelings becomes scarier then I like to admit. Instead of stopping myself, I took a deep breath and shared what I had written so far. I explained to him that I don’t ever honestly give myself Grace. “Well, that’s a true statement if I ever heard one”. He then continued to say “and that’s ok. We can give ourselves a break, but true grace comes from a divine assistance.” He stood at the fridge in silence as he drank his water and sighed “Giving grace is far too big for us to do on our own”.
Again I sat quietly with this.
I realized that we couldn’t get through life alone; we need assistance from many. Those around us help shape us, so why would it be different from a concept like (giving or receiving) Grace? We should lean on Him for his assistance when needing Grace.
Practice, So Much Practice
Life isn’t a pass or fail situation; at least that’s what Thayne tells me. I see good only when I do things’ perfectly’, and in my eyes, each of life’s moments are a pass or fail test. I know I should be content with progress in the right direction, heck that is what I would say to anyone; just like I say to each of you who read my posts or is reading this blog “give yourself grace” I would say “every day is a new day, find peace in the fact you’re doing your best”. I don’t practice what I preach (and know to be true), and in a way this realization has me wanting to say “Katie, you don’t expect perfection from anyone else, why do you expect it from yourself?”
Practice, life is about practice, not about giving yourself, Grace. It’s not about being ok with where you are it is about getting up every day and practising the skill you need to get better at so you can have the life you want. It is about enduring to the end, which by the way, is my favourite part of the gospel. If we keep going, practice every day to strengthen the behaviours in life we are most weak at and live as righteously as we can, we are promised that we will be loved by Him and continue to have the blessings waiting for us. Enduring to the end gives me hope that my inability not to judge myself on a pass or fail grading system and the heartache I feel because of this mentality will eventually turn into the peace of mind as long as I keep practising, keep enduring.
Persistence is what makes a person successful in all areas of life. If you want to lose weight or get fit, it doesn’t happen after only a week of watching what you eat or three visits to the gym. A business is not successful unless you push past the obstacles, failures, and face in the mud moments. Marriage is no different; you must be persistent in the love you show your partner no matter what curveballs are thrown your way. Persistence is practice. We must persist, practice, and endure to achieve any change or happiness.
Maybe you’re reading this and saying “ah ya, I do this” and if so the words typed are words meant only for myself. Words I have not been brave or vulnerable enough to say out loud. I hope, however, that these words do resonate with you. Either as a reminder that you’ve got this or hmmm maybe I need more practice, I know I do. And if you’re like me, that sees life’s challenges as a pass or fail situation; I hope you look for assistance from Him.
He Is With Us Every Step Of The Way
It will inevitably happen again. I’ll find myself in the bathroom floor, curled in a ball, fighting the fear of not being (good) enough but instead of “giving myself grace” I will ask Him for assistance in accepting His Grace. I will lean on the safety of knowing that we are on this earth to practice the way of the Lord so we can be perfect like him.
There is only one Perfect being; Jesus Christ and the rest of us are striving to be like him. When I look through His eyes, I can see the imperfections that make up each of us and the love he holds in His heart for us imperfect beings. I will practice taking comfort in knowing He doesn’t expect perfection, and neither should I (you). I will practice accepting His assistance and His divine gift of Grace.