We are celebrating and focusing on Spiritual health and wellbeing in Week 3 of the LWK 6 week online Challenge. www.livewellkitsap.com/challenge. We know that the term spiritual matters or spiritual wellbeing can mean very different things to different people and we embrace that.
For some people engaging in spiritual acts is more about finding peace, taking walks in nature, or lighting candles and creating moments of silent reflection. The good news is that since we are all different, come from different backgrounds, ideas of what it means to be spiritual or religious, we can choose to be curious and love one another’s differences as we love one another.
Speaking personally, my focus lately in my daily spiritual walk with my Lord Jesus Christ has been on grace. Grace- that intangible gift I receive that I do not deserve just because I am a child of God, the Almighty. It seems so amazing and yet unreal; Getting something I don’t deserve.
Apparently Chris Pratt gave a speech ( I have only read about) where he shared the following about grace as he compared it to “the freedom that we enjoy in this country” and just like men and women have laid down their lives in defense of the freedom of the people of the United States, Jesus laid down his life in order to ensure grace and freedom for everyone who believes in Him. When we choose to accept his gift of grace that our Father has freely given to us, we are cloaked in it and that is all God sees when He looks at us. He sees people cloaked in His grace as perfect, and that gives us freedom.”
As beautiful of a reminder as that is, there are three issues that arise for me around grace.
First, I don’t often feel worthy of grace. Not that I think of myself as a bad person, nor do I go out of my way to hurt others, though certainly I am capable and it happens especially with those closest to me. I really have to work at pausing and reminding myself that grace is not something I can work my way into or out of, which is my natural tendency. It doesn’t help that I grew up Catholic where the weekly prescription from the priest was to say 5 Our Fathers’ and 6 Hail Mary’s which got me a pass out of church after confession. Sadly, I did not receive the message of grace in my childhood, rather I received the message rules and rituals will suffice.
Secondly, sometimes I struggle with showing grace to others and offering it, well, graciously. I know because of my faith in Christ I am called to be Christ-like, and my sense of justice sometimes keeps me from going to the goblet of grace and pouring out a generous amount when I think someone else doesn’t deserve it. But did you see what THEY did? They deserve justice.
Thirdly, I struggle when someone close to me won’t generously pour grace out to me for my offenses both prior and current. When I remember our human tendency to minimize our part in any mishap, relationship issue or event that goes sideways, and to magnify what others do as bad, wrong, or evil, only then does this make a little more sense.
Others think I deserve my just fruits too. The old, you made your bed… adage seems fit here.
As I see myself a work in progress in just about every area of my life, then it seems to reason that there is still room for me to get out of my own way and remind myself that both my judgment of myself and others is a waste of precious minutes of my life.
There will always be differences with us mere humans. There will always be a time we zig and others wish or think we should zag. Ultimately, it is for my God to decide.
And when I practice and am successful at accepting God’s outpouring of grace onto me, remind myself I don’t deserve it, appreciate it, and take a few moments to bask in the awe of the cross- what Jesus did for me, life goes better.
When I remember to practice pouring out an abundance of grace onto another human being who I perceive has wronged me or others; when I remember that they are human too with all their flaws, ideals, sin nature, and poor choices, then I can remember to love them and quell the urge to judge.
It’s a good thing I am a work in progress.
Some verses to meditate on:
He has saved us and called us to a holy life- not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time. 2 Timothy 1:9
For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. Mathew 6:14
For sin shall no longer be your master because you are not under the law, but under grace. Romans 6:14