In these nine weeks of social isolation and quarantine, grace has pretty much been my answer to everything. Need to hit snooze on the alarm? Grace. Not quite ready to go to bed at 11 PM? Grace. Shot of espresso at 6 PM? Grace. Need to work three hours on Saturday because yesterday you just could not? Grace. Don't get my wrong. I still have goals. I complete a Daily Big 3 true Michael Hyatt-style and I reflect on my weekly and monthly accomplishments. But, I do so with a lot more - you guessed it - grace. When God wants me to learn something, he really smacks me over the head with it, folks!
Grace was such a theme in my life that I wrangled a group of grace-filled females to embark on a journey with me this month in a new series on Instagram Live! titled Fierce Grace and Liberating Truths (see Episode 1 here). Fittingly, I had never hosted an IG Live! before. Y'all. The theme here is grace. I chopped my head off for most of the interview and gave myself a few different filters by accident; however, a grace chat was born. We wrestled with that topic in a myriad of ways, and it was everything my tired soul desired. Our topic was Cultivating Grace During Difficult Pastures. I dare you to tell me you can't relate!
I won't spoil the thrills of our first Live! chat (you really have to laugh at me on your own, fam); however, this evening I do want to add a bit more meat to the bone. What does the Bible tell us about grace right now? What are its liberating truths?
Come to the table clothed in humility. Weighed down with weakness. Tired and lacking hope. God will seat you. His power is made perfect in weakness.
In Cultivating Grace, we stumbled through a series of four questions that talk about what grace means to us during this time in our lives. When I went back to reflect on our answers, three Bible versus rang true. Below, you will see each verse, followed by a brief summary of how the verse applied within the context of a few of these questions:
Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV: For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Sister, can I get an, "Amen!"? Grace is a gift of God. It's a reward for us having faith! We can't do anything more to get it. We are already blessed recipients through our faith. Stop striving. You don't have to reach your daily goals or complete your weekly checklist to be the loving recipient of God's grace. That means that maybe, just maybe, this quarantine is God's way of saying, "Child, you are enough. Return to me." Gosh, I love that verse in Isaiah so much. "Return to me." It's truly glorious in its simplicity. Healing in its command.
In a crisis, however, it can be difficult to feel that we deserve grace. We might find ourselves fighting against the enigma of control (more on that here). When we feel like we cannot control our circumstances, we often commit ourselves to erroneous striving. Trying to do more. Be more. Control more. If we don't acknowledge our humanness and turn back to God, the land of crisis can be a difficult pasture in which to cultivate grace. We would do well to recite this verse from Ephesians as our mantra. "And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast." The End.
James 4:6 ESV: But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble."
Y'all, we can't do this without Jesus. Again, it's that human striving we hold so dear as Americans. We are rewarded for it. So we do more of it. We crave the recognition and the applause. Until there is no one around to see our merits. Until there is no one but you and your one true God.
I have truly had to humble myself in the midst of this crisis. As an Enneagram 3, I like to achieve some ish, y'all. I have a beautiful planner with clearly stated SMARTER goals, daily habits I try to cultivate and a timeline in which to complete all the things. On a typical pre-coronavirus Tuesday, I could do all the things. I could do them gusto. I could do them here or there. I could do them anywhere. Except in my home office on the fourth Thursday of quarantine. I could not do them here nor there. (Same place. I am in my home office again right now. Le sigh.)
Something helpful to me has been continuing to find ways to cultivate my sacred daily rhythms so that I start and end my day with God at the forefront of my mind. I don't feel the need for excessive striving when I start my day with the sufficient reminder from Jesus saying, "Daughter, you are already enough." Somehow those four sweet words - You are already enough - ground me. There is nothing I can't tackle in the inbox ahead. And the day probably won't be perfect. There will be kiddos to corral and predicaments to process. But when you do it from a place of sufficient grace and an abundance of enough, it's easier to take each problem in stride. We might not be enough for this world, but this world is never enough for us. That is why we rest at home in Jesus.
2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV: But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore, I will boast more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
This may be one of the most soothing verses we can recite to ourselves (and to our friends) during these days of social isolation. When we feel helpless. When we feel lonely. When we feel powerless. When we feel discontent. God's grace is sufficient for us. His power is made perfect in our weakness. When we are weak, he is strong. When we cannot, the Almighty always can.
Again, this is counterculture in the United States today. We are wired to portray ourselves as strong, independent women. We are in control. Nothing can shake our foundation. Enter a global pandemic to rock us to that very solid core. Suddenly, we see the cracks in our foundations. The gaps in our faith. And perhaps, that's all part of God's omnipotence. He knew where we needed him. He just had to help bring those weaknesses light so that he could, once again, rest upon us. So that we could rest in Him.
In summary, if we come to the table humble, willing to share our weakness, God's grace will be sufficient for us. His grace will abound. We will have so much of it that we might have an overabundance to share within our communities, within our households, and even, perhaps, with ourselves. Come to the table clothed in humility. Weighed down with weakness. Tired and lacking hope. God will seat you. His power is made perfect in weakness. He's got you. He's got us.
Linger a Little Longer:
1. Do you find grace difficult to cultivate during this season in your life? Why or why not?
2. Which verse above resonates the most with you? Post it on your bathroom mirror and say it quietly every time you see it throughout your day. Commit it to memory. Say it as your mantra during these days away.
3. What sacred daily rhythms can you commit to that cultivate grace in your new day-to-day? Start today!