Receiving Grace Again and Again

I am a mistake-maker. I am sometimes quick to speak – blurting out things in hopes of filling the silence. Some recipes don’t pan out as planned. And often, I find myself going the wrong way in spite of the GPS directions on my phone…

But through those mistakes – the big and little – I have been given grace by others, including coworkers, friends, or family. And some of those have been sort-of-big mistakes or near-misses. Despite their kind smiles and thoughtful words, I still have a hard time letting it go. The mature response would be this: I’ve made a mistake but everything is ok and I’ve learned an invaluable lesson that will continue to guide my actions. I will remember this every time after.

The actual response is – F—- (or any other expletive to your liking), I screwed up big time!  Aggghhhh – how could I do that? Can you just punish me instead? Just yell at me, a little…just a little…c’mon..

Perhaps this agonizing feeling is something others can relate to. I didn’t realize how much this agonizing feeling makes me want to run away from any sort of grace – until I reread the entirety of Romans 4. The following are the two verses I found myself cringe over:

When people work, their wages are not a gift, but something they have earned.  But people are counted as righteous, not because of their work, but because of their faith in God who forgives sinners.  (Romans 4:4-5, New Living Translation).

       Before this season, I don’t think I experienced such direct, real-life grace from others. (Before this season, I also don’t think I’ve made as many remarkable mistakes; although, that probably comes with the territory of being a “responsible adult.”) But if receiving grace for my direct actions is so cringe-invoking, how much harder is it for me to receive relentless grace that impacts me eternally?

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Minimizing the Soundbytes

This season of Lent, I’ve been pondering this verse:

Yes, he humbled you by letting you go hungry and then feeding you with manna, a food previously unknown to you or your ancestors. He did it to teach you that people do not live by bread alone; rather, we live by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. (Deuteronomy 5:8, New Living Translation) 

And I’ve been consider where I need to feel hungry so I can know more of God’s sovereignty and presence. So I’m withdrawing my time on Facebook, checking it every other day, for no longer than 3 minutes. I don’t want to be a browser of people but rather an engager. I don’t want affirmation from a little thumbs-up button which took a half second to click. I want genuine, messy relationships with others in which I get to affirm others.

I want this to be a season of rejuvenation and rejoicing as opposed to bitterness and passivity.

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Talents are Overrated

Talents are Overrated

When working through a long season of feeling inadequate and incompetent as a nursing student, it’s good to be reminded about what matters. A reblog from a friend. 

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A New Season

I thank you for this season that has taken me from being a prude to being a much more real person. Yes – people cuss. People chase after money and glory. People get anxious and depressed. And sometimes we just don’t give a shit about things we know we should. But that’s the utter depravity we embody, without your guidance. Or rather, it is the depravity we endure until we are made fully whole.

I now better understand the woman with the “greater” debt. I am not blinded by my own debt because my pruddish-ness conceals what is there. I am the woman with the greater debt because I can see it better.

Thank you for the trials and tribulations so I can see you differently and others more wholly.

To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.

-CS Lewis, The Four Loves

“To love at all…

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Lamenting

If I want to be an optimist, I’ll call this season of life confident. 

If I want to be a pessimist, I’ll call this season bitter. 

I’ve added some new favorite words to my vocabulary because, I appear to have lost my silver lining finder. The first one is “dumb.” Anything that is beyond my immediate comprehension is just plain “dumb.” When I can’t open the door with gloves on? Well, that’s dumb. Left my phone at home? That’s dumb. 

The second word is “shit” or its more colorful adjective form, “shitty.” I’ve never been one to use a lot of profanity because a flippin’ freakin’ potty mouth is…well, just dumb. And it hurts people’s feelings. But “shit” seems pretty accurate to describe the bitterness of this season. It’s the filth that your body can’t use. And no one really wants to deal with it after it’s been released. I don’t want to deal with this; it’s shitty.   

Maybe I should just call this season of life dumb and shitty instead – I don’t get it and I don’t want to deal with it. This is probably one of the hardest seasons. Can I quit yet, God? Can you rename me and this season…like soon? 

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Oh Pink Ranger

Remember the pink ranger?

Yup, that’s her. Way back in the first season of Power Rangers she was the original it girl. She had it all – the looks, the popularity, and that complicated relationship with Tommy, the white ranger.  It was a looong time ago since I watched it so I don’t remember a whole lot of her story but she made a lasting impression in my 8 year-old brain. She had her damsel-in-distress moments but there were times she had to save the white ranger too. But pink ranger was  probably the first heroine figure I aspired to be, at least during pretend play time. I wasn’t a feisty child then (that hasn’t changed) but if I didn’t get to be pink ranger, I’d throw one nasty fit.

Even though I don’t take orders from Zordon and don’t have my own morphing montage, I’m (re)learning what it means to fight my own battles as an almost-adult 20-something.  Sure, my battles don’t involve an antagonist wearing a cone-bra but mine can look just as unnerving, often making me want to cringe. So I’m drawing a little motivation from the original it girl and suiting up for battle.

It’s mighty morphing time.

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“I Love your Ministry/Confidence in Love”

Study, study, eat, poop, sleep. Study, work, study, volunteer…
But then I remember that, “It’s you that renews my mind, it’s you that conforms my will, it’s you that transforms my will emotions…”

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Understanding Peace

I think I used to believe where there is peace, then that this is the direction I should go, sort of like the “go” from God. But I’ve learned that simply where the presence of God is, there is peace – regardless of the situation.

So it does not mean that what I’m seeking to do is necessarily the “right thing.” Rather, it is seeking God which brings peace. And through the peace may come wisdom and proper discernment as I communion with the Spirit of God.

Lord, may I have peace for the things before me and enough for my daily need.

Hoping for Good Soil

I’ve learned that I often learn best when I have to teach others. 

I was talking with a friend recently who has a similar personality type as I do, but having the fortune of being a few years older, I feel like I get to be her test-run. 

But she asked me how I dealt with strong emotions. As I was explaining to her what I’ve dealt with in the last year and a half, I realized I presently wasn’t practicing it. In my brokeness, I tend to emotionally dump onto others. And I feign, “Woe is me.” Then I try to fill my bad feeling, off day, or rough patch with the little emotional highs I can get from a cute animal pic, or a few minutes on Pinterest. But once the lights go off, I’m left with the same gnawing feelings of emptiness or bitterness. 

On my better days, I can remember to retreat – to turn off the electronics and seek a quite space. And as I find words and the courage to talk to the Savior, it gets a little easier. The heaviness lifts. Then the peace comes.

But the soil is still rocky, set with stones as well as thorns. Occasionally it gets weeded and fertilized but it takes the grace of the gardener to do so. And I hold onto the hope that it will one day just simply be good soil. Goodbye thorns. Goodbye weeds. Goodbye rocks.

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