(This Blog was first run on Apr 22, 2019.... I hope you enjoy the timely message with an update added.)
Acceptance. What a word! I have been living out the idea of acceptance in profound ways since my husband’s death. The acceptance that his death is real, and that he is never coming back. Acceptance that the future we had planned together will never come to be. The acceptance that paying bills, car repairs, insurance claims, dealing with home repairs, and buying and selling a home, are now my sole responsibility. Acceptance that the one I relied on for primary love, companionship, and support has been replaced by family, friends, church folks, and colleagues in ministry.
Things happen in our lives that require us to take action toward an outcome. Sometimes this necessary action is positive, and other times negative. Regardless, the action we take is our own decision to make. The process that is acceptance is an individual choice. I can choose the path of acceptance OR I can choose to deny it. In regards to my husband’s death, I could deny the reality of his death and spend my days longing for him to return. The lack of acceptance will mean that I miss out on the simple joys in my life that still permeate my days...time with family and friends, walks, biking, kayaking. It means that I live an incomplete life, pining for something that will never be in the span of my lifetime on this earth. So, I have a choice to make, and so do you. I choose the path of acceptance.
In my walk of faith, God calls me to choose to accept the grace which God offers. First and foremost….before I serve others….before I try to please those in my life, my vocation, and in ministry….before my feelings of unworthiness overwhelm me…. before I let isolation and lonliness overwhelm me, I have been given God’s grace. I do NOT deserve it, but still grace is mine for the taking; grace is mine to accept. “From God’s fullness we have all received grace upon grace” (John 1:16).
Acceptance of God’s grace leads me to a place of wholeness that is based only in God, and not in the people, circumstances, and things around me. Unfortunately, the expectations that others place on me can hinder my ability to live fully into God’s grace. I have realized since my husband’s death that the journey of grief is my own. It is not subject to the expectations of others, and the timelines that others set for me. My grief is found at the deepest places of my soul, and that is only for me to experience. That deep place in the soul is also where God’s grace resides. My acceptance of God’s grace is only for me to hold and cherish, and it is not subject to the circumstances, expectations and acceptance of others. And so I choose to accept God’s grace and to accept who I am in Christ. God gifts it to me, and I am ever grateful for such an amazing and undeserving gift.
FOR FURTHER THOUGHT
Living a life of grace starts with accepting God’s grace. There are times when we feel unworthy, but that doesn’t stop God from offering it to us. It is important to align our hearts with Christ so that He may be part of the daily workings of our lives. In order to receive His gift, we need to invite Him in to do the internal work we each need. It sometimes means giving up the right to berate ourselves for our failings... for the things God forgave us for long ago. Other times it means being willing to face difficult challenges and profound truths, and to do so knowing that grace is our reminder to face those things from a place of healing and mercy.
What is an area of your life where you seem to block God’s grace? What is it about this part of you that you deem unworthy of allowing God to enter in? Make a decision today to invite God into that very private space. Remember James 1:25: “But you must never stop looking at the perfect law that sets you free. God will bless you in everything you do, if you listen and obey, and don’t just hear and forget.” To journey on the path of acceptance and grace is to seek to live a life of freedom, a life that is complete. Don’t let yourself forget that God wants ALL of you, even those parts you may deem unworthy of God's love, grace and acceptance.
God of Love and Grace, thank You for the grace You offer freely to me. I realize that I am not worthy of Your grace but You offer it anyway. Guide me to open to You the private and tender parts of myself that are only known to me. Because of Your grace, I realize You want all of who I am. Help me, Lord, to accept the gift of grace and live my life from a place that offers grace to others, the very same grace that I have received from You. In Your Holy Name, Amen.
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