I have been reading and learning a lot about grace lately. In the book, Mom Set Free Jeannie Cunnion talks about parenting with grace and giving ourselves grace with parenting. Growing up I was technically taught that I only need grace to be saved but I often felt (and sometimes still feel) that I need to be perfect for God to love me. It is impossible to be perfect so that can often lead to shame and self-loathing when I make a mistake. It can also be confusing to hear grace is really all you need. Can it really be that easy? I feel like I need a list of rules to follow or I’m not actually a Christian. But there are countless verses in the Bible that tell us grace is all we need.
Ephesians 2:8-10 NIV “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith- and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- not by works so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
It is pretty clear in those verses that we are saved by grace not works. It is confusing because in verse 10 it says God prepares us to do good works, but this means because we are saved we should want to good works. Good works are not a requirement for salvation. It doesn’t say For it is by grace you have been saved but if you lie, cheat, steal, yell at your kids, God changes his mind. Yes, those things are wrong but there is nothing you can do that separates you from God’s love.
Romans 8:37-39 “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels, nor demons, neither the present nor the future nor any powers nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the Love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Most people have certain sins that they struggle with. I have often felt if I am honest about the sin I’m struggling with I am a not a good Christian. But I have learned that God wants us to be honest with Him and other Christians about our struggles. We have to be honest about our weakness and about how much we need Christ. In Mom Set Free she says, “Dear Fellow mom, you don’t have to be ashamed of your weakness and your need for Christ. He loves to meet you and strengthen you and glorify Himself through you in that place, by his grace” (pg. 183). God’s grace is not an excuse for our sin but it lets us know no matter how many times we mess up God still loves us.
“I don’t wanna abuse your grace. God I need it every day. It’s the only thing that ever really makes me wanna change.” –(Holy Water, We the Kingdom)
Sometimes we may also feel like we’re not good enough for God because we struggle with mental or physical health. Many churches have not always recognized mental illness. I thought for a long time that I should be able to pray my depression, anxiety, and OCD away. I’m so thankful the church I go to now recognizes mental illness the same a physical illness. It can still be hard for me to talk about but I’m glad I have a group of women who will listen to what I’m struggling with and pray and give me support without judgement. Dan is also a very supportive husband who will listen to my struggles and support me in whatever way he can.
I also struggle with low self-esteem and I wonder could God really love someone like me? But there are also many verses that tell me God created me who I am on purpose for a purpose. God does not care how we look, what we wear, what we drive, etc. He loves us for who we are in Him and he wants us to love others the way He loves us. If we trust and believe in Him He is making us new. He makes beautiful things out of dust, He makes beautiful things out of us (paraphrased from Beautiful Things, Gungor).
Psalm 139: 13-14 “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”
“You make beautiful things, you make beautiful things out the dust. You make beautiful things, you make beautiful things out of us.” (Beautiful Things, Gungor)
“And we are His portion and He is our prize, drawn to redemption by the grace in his eyes. If His grace is an ocean we’re all sinking.” (How He Loves, John Mark McMillan)