listening to grace

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To live by grace means to acknowledge my whole life story, the light side and the dark.
In admitting my shadow side I learn who I am and what God’s grace means.

Brennan Manning

Every book of the Bible from Romans to Philemon starts with something to the effect of “May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.” And then all of those same books end with another blessing of God’s grace.

That’s thirteen books, for those of you who use the table of contents as much as I do.

Maybe that’s just Paul’s style. Grace and peace, like a Biblical hippie. That, or he was really trying to get a point across.

I had always skipped over those parts before because I have heard the words grace and peace a lot. Like, a lot. So much so that they had become buzz words that told me it was time to tune out. (Makes me think about what else I might be tuning out, right?)

But now, grace is changing me.

Martin Luther said that most Christians have enough religion to feel guilty about their sins but not enough to enjoy life in the Spirit. That’s so true for me. I’ve lived heavy in the guilt.

I remember one night in junior high, I was supposed to be watching my younger siblings while my parents went out, but instead I spent hours on the phone with my “boyfriend.”

My brother and sister didn’t care- they were absorbed in a movie- and my parents had no way of finding out. But I felt so so awful. I called my dad and left him a message on his phone that went something like:

youcangroundmeifyouwant.” If you bring up the story, he’ll probably whip out his phone and play it for you, even eight years later. Embarrassing.

That’s how I’ve felt mostly with God. I wanted us to always be okay, so I would tiptoe through life, doing my best to stay far away from anything that might upset him and suffering from my own punishment when I failed.

But God says that nothing can separate us from his love. And he says that nothing we do, good or bad, can change how much he loves us.

We’re free to get pissed, to have bad days, to be dysfunctional, to make mistakes, to be hypocrites. And we don’t ever have to hide.

No matter what we’ve done or what we’re doing or what junk is holding us captive now, we’re okay. God still smiles when he looks at us and he enjoys us for who we are. Think about that. That’s revolutionary stuff.