Today’s learning centered on grace and kindness. In Sunday School we discussed denominational challenges. We talked about being kind to those we disagree with. Showing grace to people who are different. Holding firmly to our beliefs while not being mean- even if someone else is- particularly those we disagree with.
Then the reminder in today’s sermon of Gandi’s experience with discrimination by Christians in Calcutta, which led to the following oft quoted words of the famous activist:
“I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ”.
To which I nodded, pondering the quandary of a word meaning “Christ-like” being applied to those who are, at times, very much unlike their Christ.
How many have been hurt by church people? Those who sing about the love of God but don’t live it? And...How easy is it to point the finger at others and forget that I fall short, too!
My own test came in unexpected ways...
SO many congratulations and exultations given regarding an upcoming change in position. I was overwhelmed, then uncomfortable with all the attention, and then downright embarrassed. After a day full of blessings sent my way, in the evening I reacted in a way that I later regretted, after which I felt more embarrassed and also mortified over my behavior.
I remembered a mentor of my husband’s saying, “Don’t pee on my flowers.” (Meaning to learn to accept compliments with grace.) A simple “thank you” would have sufficed but I got flustered and peed all over those flowers. Ugh. And then was filled with regret and anxiety.
Until... I began to pray over my mistake, and my Healer reminded me that Grace is for ME, too.
I’m not perfect (though I battle perfectionism). At times I am one of those Christians who is not acting like Christ.
What did Jesus do when encountering those who fall short? Forgive!! Unfailingly. “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” In the midst of His worst suffering He cried out for the forgiveness of His tormentors.
It follows that I don’t have to crucify myself for my mistakes! I don’t have to (over) analyze why I reacted the way I did. At the end of the day, the truth is: there’s room for more personal growth. I can’t go back and “fix” it. I can be more gracious moving forward. I can give myself permission to accept compliments. And I can give myself the same grace Jesus has already given when I fall short.
When I have messed up and my flaws are showing through, grace is enough.
My preschool class song is “Be kind to One Another.” I can be kind to myself, too. I can stop playing the incident over and over, examining the why’s and how’s.
I can embrace self care by refusing to give space in my mind to the “should haves”. I can have a talk with Jesus, admit my mistakes and my feelings about them, and ask for the courage to look my messes in the eyes and say:
It’s OK. I don’t have to be perfect. Grace covers all.
Grace is not just for the wrongs I see in the world, or in the church. Grace is for me, too.