I didn’t clean the bathroom. Maybe the baby wouldn’t have gotten sick if I had washed his hands after coming from the mall…two weeks ago. I’m not attractive to my husband anymore. I feel so badly that I missed her birthday party—some kind of loyal friend I am. How did I not know this song was on the worship set for this weekend? The laundry is piling up and it’s your wifely duty to make sure there are always clean clothes. Dinner should have been done earlier tonight. I shouldn’t be a stay-at-home mom—I’m smothering my kid. I shouldn’t have started working again—I’m neglecting my kid. It’s so selfish of me to even be thinking of going back to school. Why do you need time for yourself again? You’re a minister and you should really be at every bible study. Worship is your thing, so why aren’t you feeling God’s presence in service right now? Literally, there is something wrong with you for spazzing out like that—you’re a horrible person…
This is the kind of running dialogue I have battled with countless times. Honestly, it’s a battle that I have not always emerged from victoriously. I have not always taken control of this internal interchange in order to speak truth and life into my identity. And although I pretty well know the words to speak in order to counter this life-draining dialogue, I usually don’t have the strength to do so…because I sometimes fail to embrace God’s grace over my life.
In my experience, God’s grace creates margin in our lives so that we are able to live with boldness, freedom, clarity, and power to carry out purpose. Think about it. When was the last time you had a really rough day and the negative, accusatory thoughts ricocheted from one side of your heart to the other? Were you able to gain clarity and security and peace outside of the remembrance of God’s grace for you? I greatly doubt it because of the truth found in Isaiah 26:3. It says, “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you: because he trusts in you.”
We must remember that there is grace for living as long as we remain connected to the one Source of our peace, joy, and ability. The ironic thing is that while there are multiple versions of guilt-inducing thoughts and emotions there is only one version of grace. We gain access to this grace through Christ. And simple as they may be, we must revisit the truths of scriptures like Philippians 4:19 that remind us of our ability in Christ as business women, wives, ministers, athletes, missionaries, mothers, and friends.
There is enough of you to go around—as long as you are doing the right things in the right season. Sometimes I struggle to grasp this reality because I forget who I am in God, I overlook the truth that He has crafted me, equipped me and strengthened me for every good work (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17). I also sometimes forget that a lack of ease in a season of my life does not mean a there is a lack of grace being extended to me. In the moments when I feel weak, I tend to notice that my posture is not conducive to placing me in view of the grace being poured out…right in the middle of my toddler’s poop explosion. When the posture of our heart is focused on the challenges at hand and not the gift of grace, we essentially open the door for the chatter of that critical voice that causes us to be unsure again and again.
Let’s be real, the voice of guilt is usually over exaggerated. No, you did not respond well to your husband’s innocent question about how to thaw out the Cornish hens (you are the one obsessed with Rachel Ray, remember?). But, this also does not make you the worst Christian wife in the history of all wives. In the moments where guilt tries to cloud our perspective concerning our identity, we must remember to take these thoughts captive and choose new thoughts that align with what Christ has already declared over us. However, if we choose to engage thoughts and emotions that disregard the truth of who we are in Christ, we give guilt what it wants: the power to stifle us from doing and becoming.
On the other hand, it is grace that empowers us to become who we are destined to be. It is also grace that empowers us to do what we were made to do. Therefore, when we wallow in dark, cavernous places that were never meant for us, we forfeit our destiny for lies that can always be combated with eternal truths. Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” This scripture is a wonderful reminder that each of us was created on purpose and for a specific Kingdom mission.
God did not make a mistake when he prompted you to take the lead as the teen pastor. He did not misspeak when he instructed you to quit your job and build your company. Sister-friend, the Father knew exactly what he was doing when He blessed your womb with a fourth child—giving you four little ones under four years old. Maybe you are having a hard time coping with a divorce…the Father still says that you are of great worth and full of purpose. Regardless of the season of life we are in, there is always grace to fulfill our purpose.
Over the last two years, as I have grown into my role as first-time mom, I have had to rely on grace in a whole new way. I am reminded of a time when our son, Ayden Michael, was about six months old. It had been a long day of stay-at-home mommy-ing and I was exhausted from the inside out. The day was not over, however, because I was scheduled to be the guest worship leader for a church’s anniversary celebration. Not only was I tired, but I was also out of practice (having been on maternity leave and all) and out of confidence. Nevertheless, I put on my brave face and led worship. It went well. But all I wanted to do after the service was run to my car (baby carrier in tow, of course!) and ball my eyes out. I drove home tearfully that night and for the next few days I beat myself up about how inadequate of a job I had done at leading worship and how weak I had become. At what seemed like the culmination of this internal struggle, I received a text from the guest pastor who spoke the night of that church’s anniversary. This particular pastor is a very well-known church leader who I know personally and is a father figure in my life. As such, I tried my best to put on my best church smile that night so that I could fool him and everyone else.
Epic fail. He told me that he could sense that something was not right with me. So, after “thanking” God for bursting my bubble I explained my mommy woes and feelings of insecurities. His response to me that day was so simple, yet so profound. It has changed my approach to every hardship, trial, and difficult season. He said, “You have to learn to rest in the grace that God has already provided.” What a breath of fresh air that was for me. In that moment, I felt the Father affirming me, mildly rebuking me, and maturing me all at once.
I realized that I had spent days demeaning myself and my gift when there was grace being extended to me. I had allowed the accusatory voice to paint a picture of my Father turning his nose up at me in disdain when all the time He wanted me to receive His grace! How many days have we spent unaware of grace? How many times have we been overwhelmed, overburdened, confused, disappointed, or ashamed and neglected to accept this wonderful gift?
Yes, there was grace extended to us when we first received Christ, but there still remains fresh grace for us. Day in and day out. One way we can become more aware of this reality is to make time to get into the presence of God. Matthew 11:28-30 says, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” This is a clear invitation to us, the daughters of the Father, to slow down and bring all we are to Him. Whether in good times or bad times, there is grace that helps us press forward into purpose and freedom from here to eternity. Even still, it is necessary for us to learn to be still and create margin for awareness of the grace that has been provided for today.