This post has been on my heart for awhile and I feel like God finally gave me the words to share it.
So often, I hear "you've just got to give yourself grace." And I understand the sentiment, of course. Be kinder to yourself. Be gentler to yourself. But even though all those comments are so well-intentioned and designed to make me feel better, they often don't. They get all twisted up and the enemy uses them to become something entirely different. What I hear in my constantly striving, perfection-seeking brain is "See? You aren't doing enough. You aren't kind enough. You aren't gentle enough." The enemy completely uses my doubt and my need to BE and DO and ACHIEVE to twist my perception of grace. Lately, "giving myself grace" has been another item on my to-do list. Fold the laundry, do the dishes, send that email, give myself grace. My perception of what grace is and how it works and what we do with it has been completely skewed.
And even more than that, the language we use confuses me too. Give yourself grace. I often think, "But I don't have any grace to give!! That's the point! I'm running on empty, you guys." I saw myself not only as the person responsible for giving myself grace, but also the person responsible for creating that grace. And of course, that's not how it works, so I am always going to fall short. We were not meant to be the grace creators. I'd go so far to say we weren't even intended to be the grace givers--even to ourselves.
All we have to do is be the grace acceptors.
That is the truth the Lord has been so lovingly pressing into my heart lately. It's not about creating the grace to give myself. It's not even about giving it to myself, whatever that means. It's simply about readily accepting the grace that is already there, no strings attached, free for the taking, and exactly meant for us. It's about unclenching those clenched fists and saying "Lord, I need YOUR grace. My palms are open." Maybe that's what people mean when they say "give yourself grace." Maybe what they actually mean is "accept the grace that the Lord has ready just for you." But the language can be confusing, if you're a striving perfectionist like me, so I'd challenge us to shift how we talk about it. Maybe it still won't help--if someone is having a hard time letting themselves off the hook, maybe saying "Hey love, there's a bundle of grace ready just for you. I pray you open your clenched fists and accept it" is no different than saying "Hang in there! Give yourself some grace." but I know for me personally, there's a world of difference between those two. Giving is active; it feels like I have to DO something. Accepting is passive, and so much easier for me to grasp when my stores are depleted. It's along the same lines as my husband saying to me, when I'm extra worn out and have no energy to cook dinner, "Give yourself a break." That requires ME to DO something. But it's entirely different when he says, "Go sit down. I'm giving you a break." Suddenly, there's no effort required on my part. That's what God says to us, friends. "Go sit down. I'M giving you a break."
There's so much in the bible about grace, and funnily enough, none of it centers on how humans are responsible for the making, or the giving, of it.
Ephesians 2:8-9 says , "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." Did you catch that? It is not your own doing. The grace is not our own doing. The saving is not our own doing. We are grateful, unworthy recipients of a great gift--a gift we are not responsible for giving ourselves, but receiving readily from the heart of our God.
An excerpt from James 4:6 says, "But he gives more grace." HE gives more grace. HE is the grace giver!
And John 1:16 says, "And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace." I love this verse so much for what it has done for my perspective on grace. It further drives home this truth--that we are recipients. That I don't have to strive. I'm not responsible for creating grace. I can take "give grace to yourself" off my to-do list. It's not something that's up to me. I'm simply a recipient. When I think of gift-giving, although it's fun and so rewarding, it's something to do, right? Find the gift. Buy the gift. Wrap the gift. Deliver the gift. All the recipient does? Unwrap + enjoy that gift. And I can see through new eyes that this is what we are called to be--grateful recipients. When I'm running on empty, feeling so incapable, there's no searching or finding or creating or wrapping or delivering necessary. All I have to do is close my eyes, unwrap + enjoy the gift that has already been freely given when Jesus took up his cross.
Maybe it was a Jesus Calling devotion or a comment from someone on Instagram, but I recently read something along the lines of (I'm totally misquoting this) "God has ready for you EXACTLY the amount of grace you'll need for any given day. It's already there. It's ready for YOU." And that completely opened my eyes. I catch myself wondering, "but what if the grace runs out? WHAT THEN?!" But friends, it's not possible. The grace God has ready for us, each of us? It's infinite! There is no end. This is the relentless, pursuing love of a most gracious Father. We can't outrun or overuse His grace. Amen for that.
How do you view grace, as something to give or accept, or both? Has anyone else struggled with the concept of grace, and feeling like it's something they're just "no good at?" I'd love to hear!! XOXO!