Giving Grace...to yourself
But then I learned something else (funny how that works!) and I wanted to share in case you've ever struggled with this, too.
It's about showing grace to ourselves.
The scandalous thing about grace is that it's free. It covers absolutely everything we do. And while we have to pay the natural consequences of our sin in this world, the punishment has been taken away. Jesus already died to pay it.
Sometimes I have a hard time coping with that. So I punish myself. God can forgive me, but I won't forgive myself. And I'm so busy punishing and hating myself and not forgiving that I can't even how wrong this is. Saying God can forgive me but I won't forgive me is, quite simply, setting myself up to be a higher authority than God, no matter how humble or right it feels.
"Have we created a religion that doesn't need Jesus?" Serena Woods writes. "That's not freedom, that's self-control. Jesus wasn't the atonement in case you accidentally sin. He was the atonement because you hopelessly sin. The freedom [...] is not something you earn by making right choices; the freedom is the lack of punishment when you don't make the right choices." (Grace is for Sinners, 201)
But then there are the lies we believe.
I've spent all summer believing a lie, and I only just realized it. "The lie that I've been drowning in when I drive, work, talk with [my sister] says that I make a mess of everything I touch," I wrote in my journal. "I'm a destroyer: I can't do anything right and everything I touch turns to pieces."
It's quite obviously a lie when you write it down. But in my mind, there was a nugget of truth/humility to it: I am a sinner, I can't do anything good on my own.
But the real truth?
Those are not the words God is speaking into our lives. He is speaking words of grace, healing, and restoration. And it's our job to make our words agree with His, even if they are scandalously free and aggressively graceful.
Because whatever the lie is whispering about us, whatever sin we've committed that we can't forgive - we have started over. We are not that person anymore.
If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation: the old has passed away, behold the new has come. - 2 Cor. 5:17
Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder the things of the past. Behold, I am doing something new! - Isaiah 43:18
...And if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness..." - Romans 8
We have been given grace. And grace, by its nature, is completely undeserved. But sisters, we can hold ourselves back from being able to fully experience it and offer it to others.
The great message of the Cross, the great message of our lives, is this: even though we have done horribly wrong, we are still wanted and loved. And we have been redeemed: we are not that person anymore, and not enslaved to sin any longer. We are loved, and we are free.
I pray that not only would we learn to be channels of grace for others - but that we would offer grace to ourselves, too.