“When I get honest, I admit I am a bundle of paradoxes. I believe and I doubt, I hope and get discouraged, I love and I hate, I feel bad about feeling good, I feel guilty about not feeling guilty. I am trusting and suspicious. I am honest and I still play games. Aristotle said I am a rational animal; I say I am an angel with an incredible capacity for beer.
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. As Thomas Merton put it, “A saint is not someone who is good but who experiences the goodness of God.”
The gospel of grace nullifies our adulation of televangelists, charismatic superstars, and local church heroes. It obliterates the two-class citizenship theory operative in many American churches. For grace proclaims the awesome truth that all is gift. All that is good is ours not by right but by the sheer bounty of a gracious God. While there is much we may have earned–our degree and our salary, our home and garden, a Miller Lite and a good night’s sleep–all this is possible only because we have been given so much: life itself, eyes to see and hands to touch, a mind to shape ideas, and a heart to beat with love. We have been given God in our souls and Christ in our flesh. We have the power to believe where others deny, to hope where others despair, to love where others hurt. This and so much more is sheer gift; it is not reward for our faithfulness, our generous disposition, or our heroic life of prayer. Even our fidelity is a gift, “If we but turn to God,” said St. Augustine, “that itself is a gift of God.”
My deepest awareness of myself is that I am deeply loved by Jesus Christ and I have done nothing to earn it or deserve it.” -Brennan Manning
~Being incredibly honest before God is one more way to say “I love You” to the Savior.
It also reduces stress, saves wasted energy, improves memory, brightens the eyes, softens the skin and overall demeanor, puts a spring in the step, enhances sleep, ameliorates the digestion, and could enable us to skip a doctor’s appointment or two. The number of bi-polar diagnoses may even diminish. Goodness, even more psychiatrists might be forced to find honest work. (not that all are dishonest. But I have some insight in the field and know there are some “high priests of Baal” within).
And perhaps the best thing – when we’re incredibly honest before God we develop a surprisingly increased aptitude of showing grace to other people. You know the ones – people like – me (I certainly need all the grace I can get). Extending grace to one another is one of the most beautiful forms of love Christ teaches us about the more noble practice of our will. It’s a fine alignment of the heart, spirit, and will. It’s not merely forgiveness and it’s often done anonymously (“don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing”). Often, exhibiting grace is a matter of asking the Lord to forgive somebody for us until we can find it within ourselves, and behaving accordingly.
Grace to me and grace to you. Where would we be without it?
Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting! (Psalm 139:23-24)