Last Autumn, our pastor took a few of us on a retreat. He asked what we thought church would look like if it was "an environment of grace".
It was there that the concept of grace began unwinding inside my heart. It was as if someone was gently untying strings that were binding my soul, keeping me from experiencing grace. Until then, I couldn't give it. I couldn't receive it. Frankly, I didn't really know what it was.
For years I had heard about grace. It was what we exercised when we forgave someone of a terrible trespass. Someone who had committed some sort of egregious act was shown grace, through forgiveness and love for all to see. The grace I knew back then I always describe as "conditional grace". As long as you did something big and stopped, grace was there for you. Say something wrong at a baby shower and there will be hell to pay.
Grace was for the black and white, not for those in process. You had to earn grace by doing the right thing, being the right person and never offending anyone at anytime. How messed up is that?
Grace is unmerited favor. You can't earn it! You can't steal it. You can't demand it. There are only two things you can do with it, accept it and extend it. Oh sure you can withhold it but then it isn't grace, it is judgment, it is condemnation, it is death.
Grace breathes life.
Grace speaks light into the darkest place.
Grace whispers into the soul of another the love that God wants to pour into us.
Grace is honor, it embodies love, it restores, it brings peace.
Grace paid for our healing and to deny its worth is to deny the magnitude of the gift.
So, I am choosing to live a gracious life. I am realizing the depth of His love for me. His love for you is deeper than any action or attitude you are holding onto. In this journey, I am finding that the hardest people to give grace to are the ones who are the most ungracious to me. If I only gave grace to those who earned it, it wouldn't be grace.
As I trust in the Giver of Grace, as I spend time in His presence, His grace flows through me. The unnatural becomes supernatural. Love is no longer the exception but the rule.