New Mercies

I keep seeing this word: mercy.  In my quiet time this was the verse for today with the caption: choose grace.

Hebrews 4:16 says, “So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.”

The old testament talks about God being slow to anger and abounding in grace and mercy.  We get annoyed with Israelites after a few rounds of their complaints.  We don’t always associate grace and mercy with God in our crisis or even our daily life.  Normally my words to myself are “Can’t you get it together?”  “Why are you anxious about that, it’s not a big deal?”  Frustration.  Lack of empathy.

We think if we show compassion to our neighbors or ourselves, we are giving a pass.  However, it is clear this is important way of living in scripture.  I think modern psychology would agree.  Punishment does not equal lasting change or a “good head on our shoulders.”

What if we let feelings pass, if we slowed down long enough to see if we needed something, made time to be quiet to hear and listen.  We are scared though huh?  Scared if we stop what we might hear.  Well, I can promise you this.  Just from this Hebrews verse alone, we can know our God is gracious and cannot wait until we come to Him to receive the mercy and grace undeserved, but that He wants to lavish on us anyways.

We can wake up tomorrow and do it differently if we know we have grace and mercy.  Perfectionism comes when we think we will be punished.  Punished for anything and everything.  Not a great way to live.

Example: I’ve felt guilty my kids don’t help pick up much, I bear the burden of most of that.  Now, I could stay there punishing myself-which means I will try harder to keep the house neat and tidy and get angry when our third runs through the living room pouring legos all over the floor or my oldest says he’s just too tired.

Or grace and mercy say, tomorrow is a new day.  Make a stride.  You can’t fail at this, because grace will meet you when you lose your cool as I teach my children to pick up.  And lets be honest, may grace meet me when I succeed, keeping me humble not trusting to much in my own ability to get it right.

So where can you give yourself mercy and grace?  Giving it to yourself means you’ll give it to others too.

Whatever it is, you got this.  At least that’s what I’m telling myself today!

Remember: Lamentations 3:23 “…His mercies are new every morning.”

 

Making connections

This season of life seems to be one of making connections.  Those ah-ha moments that put pieces of life back together where they were once all strewn across the floor for people to step on.

Last night, we were having small group and I was sitting and thinking about influence.  And I immediately had this rush-you know the feeling when you think you’ve done something completely wrong and there’s no way to go back to undo it-this time to my head where I was processing something that had happened.  A word ill spoken.

Shame.  The rush, the flushed face, the thing that says “there’s no way this can work out” or heal, it’s shame.  It keeps me in a place of anxiety and feeling unworthy.  A place that says things can’t change or I can’t change.

I realized it was shame, but didn’t know what to do with it.  So I was asking for prayer requests, realizing I was embarrassed to even share, but said you know I’m not perfect.

ah-ha. I’ve kept shame at bay by trying to be perfect.

Shame keeps us in a lot of unhealthy places.  Places of secrets, of fear of being known, accepted, loved.

But, when we step out we realize we are not alone, and we can share.  Last night, I said “I’m a ministers wife, but I’m not perfect.”  ah-ha.  I had put those two things together.  “If you are a ministers wife, i.e. you must be perfect.”  Kind of a hard gig to live up to.  But being real, being vulnerable, opening up even the yucky parts of myself to my friends and family has cleared up a lot of that shame.

Then it hit me, I could ask for forgiveness, share my heart, open up more, and allow an opportunity to be forgiven.  All was not lost.

I always thought Pharisees believed they were perfect.  But they didn’t.  They knew their secrets, their lies, their addictions, their pride.  They used their perceived perfection to hide their shame and guilt.

I’m reminded of the story of a woman who was thrown at the feet of Jesus naked, ashamed for been caught in the act of adultery.  The Pharisees wanted to catch Jesus and see what He would do with her.  So he began to write and Jesus asked “If one of you is without sin, throw the first stone.”  And they all left, see they knew they had sin, it would be blasphemy if they said they didn’t.  So, it was just Jesus and this woman, I can imagine the shame she’s feeling, and Jesus says, “Did even one condemn you?” “No,” she replied.  And Jesus says, “Neither do I.  Go and sin no more.”  (John 8:1-11)

Forgiveness with Jesus is simple.  It’s coming to Him in all our shame, and nakedness.  And leaving with Him saying I don’t condemn you either.  Jesus knew, the condemnation is what buries us and keeps us from coming back to Him.  Removing that shame then gives us the power to live.  Fully.  Oh sweet forgiveness.  Sometimes I feel I’m just now grasping more of it.

“If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth.  But if we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.”  1 John 1:8-9

So what do you need forgiveness for, ask, and it will be given.  I love this verse because its a promise.  Thank you Lord.