Okay, so you know me at all, you know that I'm kind of a half-hearted type-A, goal-oriented person. The perfect example of imperfection. I remember preparing for free days like Saturdays as a kid by charting out my mornings with unrealistic minute-by-minute schedules. Without fail, I'd wake up at least 2 minutes too late to brush my teeth according to plan, and by 15 minutes after I awoke, I'd be a failure--according to my now impossible plan, according to myself. I'd hit myself (glad I'd never heard of cutting), throw something no one would hear, and go about the remainder of my already-ruined day, moping around and hoping it would end sooner, rather than later. Maybe just take a long nap to sleep off the guilt, the frustration, the day.
I said all that to say that unfortunately, I haven't grown up all that much. I still set high, humanly unattainable goals, and even when my aims are reachable, I blow it. All. The. Time. I waste time on Facebook when I should be writing (for pay), I choose to peruse Pinterest instead of prepping for dinner, and sometimes I even choose my own perceived needs above those of my precious little boys. I've done it this week, even today.
I need grace. God's grace. So do my kids. So do you. And your kids. And everyone we know.
I've only recently become awakened to this need in my life--not just a one-time infusion of grace for salvation from the eternal penalty of my sin, but a day-by-day grace that enables me to release my pride, my schedules, my dreams, and try harder, empowered by His all-forgiving, empowering grace.
I need it for parenting, for worshipping, for cooking, for cleaning. I need it for every breath of life.
One of the many books on my 2013 list that revolves around the topic of grace is this one. I first heard about it on The MOB Society blog (love, love, love their tagline!) and then from a FB friend. As if the title didn't already make me smile, this "negative" (2 star) review put me over the top in wanting to read it: "Kids need to know that we all need Jesus, but this book seeks parents to impress on their children that they are not good . . . It seems to encourage parents to break a child down so they see their need for Jesus . . . it tells the parent that building up their child's self-esteem is turning them away from God." Good! Amen! I need that, too!
When I attended True Woman '12 this fall, I realized that I seldom give grace to others: I want them to earn my favor, my good behavior, my love. I think I tend to do this because I fail to humbly realize how undeserving I am of Christ's forgiveness and blessings in my life. Some of the issue probably has to do with a somewhat legalistic tendency I come by naturally, similar to the one described in this blog post. Some also comes from my background which appeals to my natural tendency to think I can be--or am--good enough. Here's another blog post , this one by the husband of a dear friend, on the topic of grace vs. legalism that really hits the nail on the head:
"As Christians, we are able to go years (even decades) believing we are basically holy people because we’ve never messed up in any big way, don’t go here, don’t say this, or look, talk, dress, and act a certain way. And yet we do not encounter Christ daily through his Word. We are not seeing Jesus Christ and savoring him for all that he is to us. We do not understand the depth of our sinfulness so that they we out to God for daily mercy. We do not understand the gracious kindness of God towards us so that we are filled with joy, life, and love. We do not know what it is to depend upon the Holy Spirit and to be led by him into holiness. For us holiness is simply x, y, and z–not Christ."
The same friend blogs about the freedom of grace: "Many of us resonate deeply with the message of grace that rightly corrects the artificial constraints and condemning attitudes of legalism. We should recognize, however, that grace also frees us from the bondage of lawlessness."
As Candace Cameron Bure (childhood star of "Full House" and sister to outspoken Christian Kirk Cameron) considers the theme of her personal testimony: "Being good isn't good enough."
Even still, I will try to be good, do better, set (reasonable) goals, and try to follow them. Goals like this 20-day challenge I mentioned last week, along with another post or 2 I've pinned on this board. And I'll do so knowing I won't be perfect, I'll need grace, and I can move on in the right direction without moping through the rest of my day, my week, my life as a failure. I hope you will, too.
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I'll end with a quote from a friend, fellow baby-mommy, and former student of mine because I simply couldn't say it better myself, so I won't even try:
"It’s one thing to determine how to live based on principles and goals. It’s another to imagine the awesome life I can have because, I mean, c’mon, I’m a pretty awesome person. When I build that dream, and reality fails to match it (as it inevitably does), the weight of my mediocrity and normalcy crushes me. I want to hide in bed, distracting myself and others from the knowledge of my failure.
"That is pride. It is the secret, ugly belief that I am somehow better. Others’ failures I can understand, but my own? I am capable of more.
"So here’s to humility. Here’s to acknowledging our weaknesses, and being patient with ourselves while striving to be better."