Monday, April 18, 2011

Understanding Grace

In the past few weeks I have discovered that my view of God's grace over me is quite skewed and as a perfectionist, this has been especially dangerous!

You see, as a believer in Jesus, well meaning people in my life have told me about this perfect little picture that my life as a Christian woman should look like. Here's what I've understood - - To be a good Christian woman, wife and mother, I should wake up before the children every day without fail and spend an hour studying the Bible and praying. I should never raise my voice to my children and I shouldn't have to because they will innately be perfect children who would never dream of making a wrong choice. I should love and serve my husband and submit to his every decision because he can do no wrong. When he comes home from work at the same time every day, I'll be perfectly dressed, lipstick and all, dinner will be ready and the house will be free of chaos (living and non-living). If I don't live like this, there's something terribly wrong in my spiritual life. Some may even say I don't have a relationship with Jesus at all. (gasp!) You can probably see how the perfectionist nature in me that will never live up to this picture of the perfect Christian woman has kept me in bondage and defeat for years! I'm so glad that the only person I have to give an account of my life to is God!

Well, reality is that my life doesn't look like that and the grace of God that covers me through the shed blood of Jesus says it doesn't have to. Nowhere in the Bible does Jesus ever give this indication. Yes, there are the places that point us to pray without ceasing and to rise while it's early and go to a secluded place to spend time with Him. I don't discount those at all, however, I am a mother of 3 small children whose husband doesn't come home from work at the same time every day and for months at a time doesn't come home at all. In the past week, I have had one - one hour conversation with my husband who is somewhere in the middle east. I have to make choices and decisions for our family that are way outside of the realm of what the ideal woman is supposed to deal with! In no way, shape or form is my life typical or ideal and I've come to the place where I will no longer beat myself up because I can't live up to the man-made standard for what my life should look like as a lover of Jesus.

My new understanding of grace leads me to know that it's my heart and my intentions that are most important to Jesus. My heart longs to study the Word in depth and for hours at a time, but in my current circumstances, that's not possible. I'm grateful for a group of ladies who I walked through the end of the book of James with using a simple, doable method that didn't require hours and hours of study, but that I was able to do in short snippets throughout the day as time and the quietness of my house allowed. I know this season of my life will pass and I will have more time to spend studying and praying and fellowshipping with others.

I am so grateful for the freedom that I've experienced in the past few weeks as I'm reminded daily that God doesn't love me any less because I'm not perfect! He knows there's no way I'll be perfect as long as I reside on the earth. While I'm here, I must embrace the circumstances and situations of my life that aren't ideal and let Him use them to conform me to His image. I'm grateful that I better understand that God made me as an unique individual and His love is unique for me, as it is for every other believer. He knows what my days look like and knows before I even open my mouth how I'm going to respond to my kids or husband. His desire isn't for me to beat myself up over my failures, but to find joy in His grace that covers all of my imperfections!

"There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death." Romans 8:1-2

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