I have thought quite a bit recently on the subject of grace, studied and pondered on it in my heart. In the past, although believing I understood grace, I still felt extreme expectation to do- and in the process, became so stressed that I felt my “being” diminishing. I am the type of person who worries- worries about the amount I get done in the day, that my home is not the way I want it, that money is tight, that I will let someone down, that somone will think poorly of me (I know, I know- those who matter won’t mind and those who mind don’t matter…I get it!); I worry about my husband, my children, their education, my education, the ministries with which I am involved. I worry about superficial things; I worry about eternal things. Talk about a waste of breath! So where did the grace go in all of that?!? (Before you think to reach through your monitor and konk me on the head, I know! I forget, so easily! That doesn’t show faith, or hope in grace at all!) When I think I am not good enough, which is an awful trap to slip into, I think I need to remember that grace was given before I was born- He-Jesus Christ- is not waiting for me to do anything before He reaches out to me! He already has! He has blessed me, before I asked, and all I need to do is surrender to it and allow myself to accept His love for me. Why would I want to block myself off from someone else’s love, I cannot fathom! I love being loved. In this case, this is the best offer of love I’ll ever get! (Bring it on, huh?)
Now that may seem as though I have no joy at all in life; yet that is not so. Thankfully, my worry is not constant. I am too busy to worry to the point of distraction. I am grateful for my day to day living! I just need to remember: No matter how much I do, I cannot do “it all” alone. My to-do list is insane! My husband constantly counsels me to knock it off- I keep making lists- from New Year’s resolutions lists to my daily list of chores- thinking I can do more than humanly possible, and I stress out when I don’t live up to expectations. Wait a minute! Who’s expectations? Yep, they’re mine. Not My husbands, my children’s, my neighbor’s, or God’s- mine! So why do I torture myself? I do not need to do it all; and the most important- the one’s I really need to do- I do not need to do alone. That is the point of the Atonement. The Atonement does not make the difference after what I do, it is my strength to get started, my strength to keep going, my strength in new struggles and old joys. He is there when I am at my worst, but also when I am at my best.
I appreciate this presentation (I’ve watched it a few times over the past year or so) because Brad Wilcox seems to understand my obessive compulsive personality, which leads me to burn out over “ifs” and “dos.” I find serious comfort in the idea that “any effort is acceptable to God… because He is more concerned with the offerer than with the offering.” I love the analogies Brad Wilcox uses in describing our relationship with Jesus Christ. He, Jesus Christ, just wants us to be with Him again!
So, I want to look toward the graces manifested in my life. The times in my life when He has saved me- literally, physically saved my life, when He has saved my sanity, shown me strength, acceptance, courage, hope, love, or joy despite the circumstances through which He still requires me to pass. He has carried me through so many experiences, and I know He will keep doing so. I cannot do it alone, yet I have the blessings of grace- as proof of my worth to Him; as knowledge that I am not alone, and that He powers me and I can do all things! Without Him I am nothing-powerless. With Him, because of Him, I can do anything He wants me to do. His grace powers me to be the person who He knows I am capable of becoming. He is not so worried about what I do, but who I am, and He loves me as I am now. He shapes me so that I may fulfill the measure of my creation. I know I am a long way off from who I want to be when I am done “growing up”- He sees the gap; yet, He knows my heart and knows better than I how I should close it. Once I accept His grace, and step off the hampster wheel of “should’s,” I allow Him to work on me. All those things I want transformed, He can change, even though I cannot. He does it lovingly, whereas I would treat myself with harshness and impatience. He is not about guilt or expectation or demands. His request that I make covenants with Him is about love, empowerment, protection, and providence- for me.
I am blessed! I have the joy of having Jesus Christ walk beside me and hope for my life because He chooses to be here unconditionally, and forever. What an awesome plan! (See the Old Testament- Isaiah 53, New Testament-Romans 5, John 3, and Book of Mormon 2 Nephi 9:6-7, 21-26 and Alma 7:11-13 and 34:8-17 for more on Jesus Christ’s Atonement.)
Have an amazing Monday! Have an amazing week! May Heavenly Father’s blessings rest on all of us (an may we be wise enough to accept His grace)!