Life lately has seemed like one big lesson in learning grace. Not just as a pretty little church word, but as the big, gutsy, life-changing, transformative gift.
Grace is changing everything about me.
I'm a perfectionist. My parents raised me with high standards and expected me to be my very best, and I took that very seriously. I've realized there's a lot more people pleaser in me than I ever cared to admit. I'm an all-star at getting things done. Responsibility is my number one strength according to Strengths Finder, and I love leadership positions and having a clearly defined role to play. I'm impossibly hard on myself and ridiculously critical too.
But grace is changing everything about me.
A dear, dear friend this week saw me break down completely as I realized how this standard of perfection and the consequent feelings of failure and frustration have been eroding all areas of my life.
I rambled as I realized I expect too much out of myself, and when I fail or fall short, I quit and give up. I lock my heart up from people when relationships don't progress like I should in the time I think they should. I give up on projects when I can't figure things out in the time I think it should take. I pull away from God when I don't feel like I'm living well or I don't think He's responding. It's always been how I handle things-- I'm impulsive and spiteful and excellent at giving up when things get hard.
He looked right at me and told me gently, "that's not who you are, though." I laughed while still crying and was baffled-- it's what I do, though. It's what I do in every area of my life. How can it not be who I am? Isn't what I do also who I am?
He smiled at me and I avoided eye contact and he told me none of that is who I am. None of the guardedness, the pushing people away, the stress and the anxiety, the feelings of failure and desire to just quit, none of the critiques and the shortcomings, none of the roles I play or the positions I hold or the work I do... none of them are me.
I am Rachel.
Rachel. At my core, that's who I am.
This friend told me: "It's like trying to describe God. You can say God is love and God is justice and God is mercy and hope and all of these things, but it doesn't get to the core of who He is. God is GOD."
I'm a perfectionist and I've failed at projects on my plate and I've let people down and I've damaged relationships and I've struggled and I'm stressed and overwhelmed...but none of those things are who I am.
I am RACHEL.
Grace is changing me from who I was to who the Lord has planned for me to be.
When I accept the massive gift of grace that's right in front of me, it changes me. It puts broken pieces back together again. It transforms me. It makes me new.
There is grace for me in my work when I can't accomplish the tasks on my plate. A coworker stepped in and helped with the part I couldn't figure out and the project got done and looked great. Grace like that is changing me.
There is grace for me when I shut people out and close myself off from friendships. A friend came to town and told me over Chinese food that it was a phone call several years ago that I had forgotten ever making that made it clear to her that our friendship would last. She told me it was because I called and wanted to figure out if something was wrong that she realized we would stay close. I realized I've since become a friend that doesn't put much effort in, and I saw that she was now the friend fighting to stay close despite my lack of trying. That friend is the one who texts me when I feel like a mess and reminds me that I'm okay, that I'm loved, that I'm strong, that feeling how I'm feeling "IS NORMAL!" Grace like that is changing me.
There is grace for me when I've run far away and squandered everything good I was given and am the perfect picture of the prodigal son.
There is grace for me when I return, head hung low, ashamed that I couldn't have just stayed where I was loved and wanted.
There is grace for me when I put other things in the Lord's place in my life.
There is grace for me when I fail to love well, fail to extend a helping hand, fail to fight for justice, fail to be the hands and feet of Jesus, fail to show mercy, fail to be present.
There is grace for me even when I struggle to have grace for myself.
Grace is changing everything about me.
The sin, the shortcomings, the struggles, the stress...they aren't me. I am Rachel. God is GOD. I am beloved and chosen and covered in His amazing, amazing grace.