Currently have the perfect formula for writing: fresh coffee from a brand new bag + cloudy morning + comfy sweater + zero obligations.
But mostly the coffee.
My sister sent me a bag from Intelligentsia that someone gave her because she wasn’t going to use it, and its not disappointing at all.
Life is interesting, as always. Constantly learning something new, and it’s constantly uncomfortable and frustrating and annoying and most of the time I just want to run away.
I’ve been praying for the opposite though. I’ve been asking to learn how to stay. How to commit to something, someone, some place, in the long-term. Because, as I’ve stated many a time before, my flight instinct is pretty damn fine-tuned. And as much as a good thing as that can be sometimes, it’s something I want to learn to balance.
Balance. What a word.
Also something I’ve been needing more of lately. A balance of social life and work life, and potentially school shortly also. Balance of reality and imagination. Balance of peace and calm and energy. Balance of emotions.
Because I’m a hot mess. And not very well balanced at all. But I’m working on it, and more importantly, Jesus is working on it.
Which brings me to what I’d like to actually write about today.
We talk about it a lot as believers. But I don’t think we really let it work as often as we should.
I want to talk about letting Grace work.
Grace – defined by me and what I’ve learned about it over the years, put simply – is: something you have received freely that was not earned.
I struggle with this SO much. Because I have the hardest time just accepting grace without trying my best to fix what I broke. Usually when I try to fix things, I brake them more. And lately, this has been all-too true. Learning how to stay means learning relationship - and I mess up a lot. And the truth is that most of the time, there isn’t a way to fix it. I can’t take words back, I can’t un-speak them. I can’t un-do what I did or slow-down the knee-jerk reaction I shouldn’t have acted on yesterday. And while apologies are helpful to some degree, the words “I’m sorry” often don’t cut it. And I don’t have sharper ones that do. So I have to leave it there, try to do better next time, and trust that whatever I messed up will be mended and whomever I hurt will show me the grace that is needed to mend it. I have to let grace work. Because there is nothing I can do except say “I’m sorry.” And mean it, and then hope and pray that and trust (that’s the killer) that even though I don’t have words to cut it, I am forgiven and loved and valued just the same.
Let Grace work.
I have terrible commitment issues. And trust issues go hand-in-hand (oh the irony/puns) with that. Not just romantically – in ALL relationships.
I mess up and then I dig myself further in the hole by trying to fix it and then give up out of exhaustion and leave it at “I’m sorry” and hope and pray that there is grace for me. And I have to also extend that when I’m on the opposite end. which somehow I find A LOT easier than accepting grace. I receive a lot of forgiveness, patience, gifts, etc. that I don’t deserve one bit.
Let Grace work. Let Mercy reign.
Mercy, as defined by dictionary.com (because I’m classy), is “compassionate or kindly forbearance shown toward an offender, an enemy, or other person in one's power.” Being pardoned when you don’t deserve it. Grace in action, you could say.
Letting Grace work is letting Mercy reign.
Let Love love.
Love is where grace and mercy stem from. If you don’t love someone or something you will not want to give it grace or mercy.
The other day I had a customer at work – my last customer of the day – who was a pain in the butt to say the least. Immediately grumpy and rude when they got to my cash register. And I was trying my best to be patient and kind and gracious to them. I wasn’t smiling very much, which I could’ve done more of and improved the situation, but I was not rude in tone or rushing them through anything. I gave them a free-giveaway (even though they didn’t technically qualify for it - we were having a special sale event, it’s besides the point) and when they complained about the receipt and about me and about everything else, I thanked them for catching my mistake (as I fixed it, rather than having someone else deal with it) and wished them a good evening. Inwardly, I was yelling at them to not treat me like a piece of trash because they were tired and having a bad day, and reminding them I was a human too. The only thing that kept me from that outwardly, and keeping my inward self in check, was remembering that I am in need of grace and mercy and love too, and I needed to extend what I need of others to others. To them. I did mess up their transaction – and I have a valid excuse, but it doesn’t matter, because I made a mistake and had to own that and apologize. And Jesus loves them, so I should also, and I had the opportunity to do so instead of letting my pride and sleepiness and hanger get in the way of that. Yeah, I could’ve done it WAY better than I did, but I didn’t blow up on them, so it wasn’t a total failure.
I may not know them. I may not love them actively in their lives and be a person they can talk to, but I was challenged with loving them and knowing absolutely nothing about them, except that they were rude and it wasn’t ok, and I could show them grace and mercy and love by not being rude in return.
And most of it was because I love Jesus. And he has slowly, and slowly still is, fine-tuning and fixing and training my spiritual muscle and the desire of my heart to show love and grace and mercy to everyone I encounter. I love him, that’s why I love people.
Honesly, humanity is not something I like. I don’t like that I’m one of them either. I see all of the flaws and anger and nastiness and horrid things that humans are afflicted by and that they afflict and I am disgusted and angry. And I am not an exception. Which disgusts me further. I am plagued by the human condition, as we all are. And that has affected a lot of my mental state lately, which I wont go into.
In learning and searching and digging lately, cleaning out my mind and heart and soul, me and Jesus in the trenches of relationship, I have become so aware of my own short-comings and struggles and failings. And I am learning, amongst a million other things) that I HAVE to let Grace work. I HAVE to let Mercy reign. And I HAVE to let Love love. I don’t have any other options. Because on my own I only make things worse.
I have been reading pretty inconsistently through the book of Ephesians, it’s always been one of my favorites. I was reading in chapter 2 and verses 14-16 struck me in a way they never did previously.
“For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.”
He PUT TO DEATH THEIR HOSTILITY. The Love, perfect flawless, radical, relentless love inspired grace which produced mercy on the cross and in the resurrection; THAT put hostility to death.
Not hatred. Not holding a grudge. Not building a wall. Not giving up. Not running away. Love. Grace. Mercy.
That is what relationship of any kind is about.
I’m still working on it, I’m still pretty terrible at it in a lot of ways, but I hope you can continue your patience with me in that. Because I want to be a giver of love and do relationship well and let Jesus use that love in/through me to break down barriers. Because that’s the only way I know to unite and to mend and to heal.
“But because of his great LOVE for us, God, who is rich in MERCY, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by GRACE you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.” // Ephesians 2:4-7 (emphasis added)
To be completely honest, most days when I talk to Jesus I am filled with very little faith, very little trust, a whole lot of abandonment and commitment issues and so much anger and frustration. A lot of the time I mostly yell and curse at him. We’re going through the part of any relationship where you have to fight and work things out and deal with the mess. We’re going through the “for worse” part, but we are going through it together.
And I am daily overwhelmed by the grace and mercy and love he delights to flood me in after I finish screaming at him. I am overcome by the notion that he would choose to stay in my life. And rejoice and love to stay even when I’m mad that he made me in the first place.
A few days ago I was sitting in one of my favorite coffee shops before work, and I had spent the morning in a really good place of searching and talking to Jesus. I wasn’t yelling or mad, just eager to be with him and let him love me. On the way to the coffee shop the anxiety and depressos were starting to get me again –and I was doing my best to ignore them. So, I was just sort of chilling, drinking my au lait and getting way too involved in scrolling through facebook, when this girl interrupts me. Our conversation went something like this (coffee shop friend starting it off):
“Hi! What’s up?”
“I was just sitting over there and this sounds kinda weird, and sorry, I’m super nervous but, I believe in Jesus, and I was just sitting over there spending some one-on-one time with him and he just cant stop telling me how much he loves you. [cue tears from me that continue pretty much the rest of the time] and he just wouldn’t stop telling me that. He wanted me to just come tell you he loves you and he is with you. He is so obviously with you. He just loves being in your presence and he is always with you. He can’t stop talking about how much he loves you. Are you doing ok?”
I was just overwhelmed. He loves me so much that he wont shut up about how much he loves me to a complete stranger in a coffee shop?! AND HE LIKES TO BE WITH ME. HE LIKES MY PRESENCE. He is always with me.
WHAT THE HECK. ALL THE EMOTIONS.
We chatted a little while longer, she prayed for me, and we exchanged numbers, because friendship.
I drove to work crying and repeating out loud “You love me. You’re with me. You love me. You’re with me.” Over and over.
Me and Jesus have quite the interesting relationship. And as often and as many times as I screw it up or get mad at him, etc. he never leaves me. He actually enjoys being with me. And he loves me so much he cant shut up about it. This is something as believers we are taught and we “know” but we don’t always KNOW it, if ya get what I’m trying to say. And its something I’ve been not knowing, or trusting, lately.
And if he loves me that way – how much must he love YOU.
I don’t know what you’re going through in life right now. I don’t know what struggles and addictions you face, what trials you’re walking in, what pain you’re afflicted by, what wrongs have hurt and hardened your heart, or what has messed with your trust and faith. I don’t know, I don’t need to. But He does. And let me just tell you – He loves you. He loves you so much and he just cannot stop talking about you. And he loves being in your presence. Even when you resent him and don’t want him there or don’t believe he is. He is CRAZY about YOU.
Let His Love flood you. Let His Grace work. Let His Mercy reign.
Sit and drink your morning coffee, on the hardest day of your life and the best day of your life, knowing that he is completely obsessed with you and loving you and there is nothing he holds back to cover you in that love. Absolutely nothing you can do to make him leave. Absolutely nothing you can do to make him take away the grace and mercy he loves to bestow.
Let that sink in today. Lather your soul in that knowledge. Let it quench your thirst.
Love inspiring grace and mercy sets you free from fear and everything else.
Let Grace work.
So there's those little, maybe-half-formed, kinda messy, thoughts on life and learning and such.
from my heart and just-barely attempting to figure this life-thing out mind to yours, all the love