grace

I don’t think I understand grace.

I talk about it. I sing about it. It makes me happy to think about it.

But I don’t understand how it works. No sooner do I say that I accept it, from God or from someone else, than I don my “law spectacles” and look at myself, or other people, or the world, through lenses of judgment. My shoulders sag beneath the condemnation, knowing that I’ve messed up; that I will mess up again. I say that I have received grace, but I slog through life carrying burdens that I don’t need to carry.

When will I understand this? When will I soak it up, internalize it: live and breathe grace instead of judgment?

The thing is, life is difficult. I carry around the burden of being stuck in a human body, and I do still carry a propensity to sin. To mess up. It isn’t as if grace negates the concept of good and bad. God still says what is right and what is wrong, and my conscience still reminds me of those things. And that is needful.

But grace is recognizing the shortcomings ā€“ acknowledging them, repenting of them instead of ignoring them ā€“ but seeing beyond them. Not getting caught up in them. Seeing the potential in other people; in myself. Receiving unmerited favor and extending it to the people around me.

Romans 8 says that all creation groans as in the pains of childbirth, yearning for redemption. Sometimes I barely feel that yearning, but other times I am in tune with it. I see it all around me, and feel it inside me. The world is beautiful, but it is imperfect. There is pain and agony here because of sin. If I am still, if I am quiet, I will hear its cry for mercy. Grace.

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