How to extend Grace when you just don’t feel like it? Interesting concept for me today since I was just listening to Francis Chan talk about how Christians should be set apart. He quotes in his book, Crazy Love.
If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them and lend them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great and you will be sons of the most high because He is kind to the ungrateful and wicked, be merciful just as your father is merciful.
The point here is that yes, grace is a difficult subject to broach because it makes you think that you have to just lie down and let somebody walk all over you. However, the true nature of grace is so much more than just being a rug for people to constantly walk back and forth on. Giving grace when you don't feel like it is a true testament of your character and I'm not saying that it's going to be easy nor should it be easy at least to start. The reason for the difficulty, personal reflection can be rewarding, but difficult. Being in the mental health field, I help people realize that every single person has a story, every single person has a reason for why they do what they do. That doesn't mean that it won’t irritate you, it doesn't mean that it won’t hurt your feelings and it doesn't mean that it won’t make us angry, but for some reason each and every individual has the genetic makeup, has a personality or has some sort of mental health makeup that drives the way that he or she lives their lives.
Isn’t it easier to hold a grudge and to not let somebody back into your life? You might want to be angry with that person who cut you off while driving to work. Of course, it seems the easy thing to do because the truth is, it is easier to hate, to be angry with people and to think that they should or should not have done something. However, think of how many people have thought the exact same thoughts about you. It's the age-old adage “do unto others as you would like done to you”. Francis Chan continues to say is that, “true faith is loving a person after he has hurt you. True love makes you stand out”. True love includes grace, extending grace knowing that people have their faults and their flaws and they're going to act like mean people sometimes. You are going to act like a terrible person sometimes. Would you not give your own self grace? Should you give your own self grace, if you're not even giving your own self grace, I can imagine that it be difficult to extend grace to somebody else.
My recommendation is first and foremost, look at your own life. Are you giving yourself grace, do you know how to give yourself grace?
I can give you a little peace about this subject, it does become a little bit more second nature to extend grace, I do promise that. However, it doesn't mean that I don't struggle with extending grace. Sometimes I'm just plum irritated, but then I have to remember to put myself in their shoes. If I want them to extend grace to me, I should extend Grace to them. After a while you will begin to evaluate your relationships through the lens of grace, after all, God’s loving relationship is based off of His love and grace giving to us through Jesus Christ. I think we can do ourselves and God a solid by giving grace a chance.
Here it is. So, I have already received my paper degree and have officially been awarded my Master of Arts in Professional Counseling. What makes this walk so special is not only the fact that I have yet to walk for a college degree, but because this degree was a journey that was filled with more roller coaster rides then I thought I had tickets to ride. With graduate season ramping up, I wanted to share a little wisdom that took only a few short years to gain.
Now, I know that I am not the only person in this world to handle a little heartache, a little strife throughout life while they attempt to achieve their dreams. See, that’s the beautiful thing. Look around you, there are so many different people who have had knocks and blows and still look at like it’s a gift.
This master’s degree is a true foot for me. Sure, when I got my other degrees, I was basically a single mother as my husband was away for work for months and months at an end. I was raising two amazingly beautiful children and working full time. I was massively impressed with myself for the things that I had gone through thus far, but I was unprepared for what was to come when I naively started my Master’s degree journey.
I had given birth to a beautiful baby girl five months before I chose to start my degree. I had had pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes, so my body was no where near where it was before getting pregnant with our third child, but nonetheless, I was ready to go back to school. I was determined that a I was going to get the degree, which would allow me to practice counseling with a license in Michigan. All went well for quite a while until I went to get my practicum. At this time, my degree completion planned put the counseling practicum (mini internship) smack dab in the middle of the degree completion plan. I sent out resume after resume, cover letter after cover letter and contacted as many people as I could, but I got NOTHING, Nada, Zip, Zilch and well, you get the point. I was devastated!
Low and behold, God had other plans for me. This was the time that I began setting up paperwork and doctor’s appointments to get my mother checked over as we had a feeling something was not right. On October 11, 2015 myself and or four children were in a traumatic accident that left me not only without a vehicle, but in intense physical and emotional pain. I did not realize until after the fact that God had put off my practicum to provide what was best for me and my family. I was a wreck after the accident and then furthermore, I was a wreck after my mother was diagnosed with Frontal Temporal Degenerative Dementia and moved in with us and our already crowded house. A family of six became a family of seven and we used two vehicles everywhere we went. We smushed our family into rooms like little well-loved sardines. I was a wife, mother of four, student and caregiver to an ailing mother who needed me more than I realized was possible.
Through ups and downs, a mental breakdown and finding the best way to care for my mental and physical health (still a work in progress), I found a practicum the first time I contacted a counseling center. I completed said practicum and internship, making many connections along the way. I began to realize that God really did want me in the counseling field and would carry me along the way. I am not forcing my faith on anyone, but I have to be honest. I am not sure how I would have made it past the last three years without the protection of God and my faith in Him. My heart has felt like it has broken more times than I ever though possible, and I had some pretty heartbreaking experiences before the accident and my mom was diagnosed. I learned that with God, I am a warrior and champion.
I am now in my limited license professional counseling phase of my dream career. I have made connections that I never thought possible. All this doesn’t mean that I don’t turn to God because I do. I am in pain in some severity level every day, and I am trying daily to tame my depression. I need God and I know this. I have sat outside on my steps at night, turned my eyes towards the heavens and in tears asked God for help because I cannot do things alone.
Moral of this story, if it is God’s will, you will not have to move mountains to achieve your dreams. He will move them for you. With God anything’s possible is the title of this post because with God and through His plans, I have been able to make it through. I am a warrior woman because of Him, not because of ANY of my own virtues or strengths. Let me be clear on that one. What you believe is your choice (an awesome God given fact), but for me, I know where my strength has come from.
Turn towards God, please. You may not know right away all the plans He has for you. Sometimes you have to walk down the path you thought was God’s will before you find out that you were meant to turn left instead of right and that’s okay. That is the beauty of life.