In January of 2015, I chose intentional as my word for the year. I wanted to live with greater intention in a lot of areas.
Two of those were pursuit and self-centeredness. I wanted to pursue people way better and think about myself way less.
Guess what I struggled with the most in 2015?
IF EVER YOU THINK GOD DOESN’T HAVE A SENSE OF HUMOR, THINK AGAIN.
So yes...2015 brought with it a lot of proof that I am super into myself, and also not as good at loving people as maybe I want to be.
And I FREAKED OUT, y'all.
Which means that what I did was spend a ton of time analyzing and over-analyzing and beating myself up for being such a horrible person.
If we’re being honest, I gave God very little room to extend grace.
There was a preoccupation with getting it right. The inner monologue was:
Okay, I didn’t love so-and-so very well in that moment. I'm really screwing this relationship up. Next time I will do WAY BETTER.
Oh, no, I’m so self-centered I MUST STOP THINKING ABOUT MYSELF. STOP, SELF, STOP.
Yeah, okay, like that did any good.
A lot of times, I forgot this very big, very key truth:
We can’t fix the mess ourselves. We are not made to be able to fix the mess ourselves.
In fact, we are made to need God to fix the mess for us.
I would do this really cute (not cute) thing where I mentally ticked off all the things at which I was failing, and made game plans for how to do them better.
My fear skyrocketed when I saw the depth of my depravity, and realized I didn’t actually have the strength to do anything about it.
I saw how messy the mess was, and legitimately thought, "No WAY God is big enough for this. No, no, no way."
(LIKE WHO DO I THINK I AM, HONESTLY.)
Have you ever convinced yourself that your sin is too big for God’s grace?
Have you ever believed the lie that you have to fix yourself by yourself?
I have more than one page in my journal with desperation scrawled across it.
Why can’t I fix it, God? Whyyyy?
For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. (Romans 7:18-19)
I ran around the mulberry bush of my sin over and over. I oscillated between being hopping mad about it, and dissolving into big ole crocodile tears.
And every time I cried out, I got this gentle answer:
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1-2)
For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. (Isaiah 41:13)
Morning by morning, new mercies I see. (Not in the Bible...still accurate though.)
Wait...what? WAIT WHAT.
1) No matter how big the mess, the record is clean. Straight. Up. Clean.
2) There is no need to live in fear of sin that seemingly can’t be defeated. The Redeemer has promised His help.
I don't know why those two concepts are so hard to take hold of. Except that maybe it's some weird combination of fear and pride and being a ding-dong of a human being. Bless our hearts.
So all that said, the word for 2016 is grace.
This year, I want to learn how to mess up, repent, receive grace, and carry on.
I want it to be a knee-jerk reaction, not a conclusion I come to after I’m already worn and exhausted from trying to make everything right on my own.
And I think the first step in real repentance is having a heart that believes grace and mercy wait on the other side.
A heart that is living in fear of condemnation can't really repent.
A heart that deeply understands grace has no choice but to repent.
I want 2016 to be filled with new and deep understanding of the Grace that has the power to redeem every atom of creation.
Because I have a feeling that understanding grace way deep down in one's gut changes a lot of things about the way one does life.
A LOT OF THINGS.
So here's to 2016: The Year of Grace. Praise God for His unending faithfulness, and the fact that, really, every year up to this point has been a year of grace already. Even if we didn't know it.