• Andrea Jones

When The Grace Lifts...

I've been meaning to sit down and write this post for a while now, I just haven't had a moment between the 3 week physical therapy intensive and then the holidays. So here goes.

I hear people say a lot in Christian culture "His Grace is sufficient for you!" when you share struggles or challenges or the extreme emotional fatigue that comes from fighting hard and long battles. First let me say- His grace ABSOLUTELY IS sufficient for me... but sometimes there is more to it that just that.

The verse often referred to is 2 Corinthians 12:9 "But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." I know people are well meaning (usually), and that they often speak from their own understanding of who God is, but when the rubber meets the road, platitudes don't help. We can try to muster up all of our strength, our own ability to believe and have faith, but even then, we fall short because we are human. We have feelings and we are incredibly fragile and influenced by our circumstances in spite of our best efforts.

If you look at the greek word for "grace" in this context, charis, it means "of the merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection; especially the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life." I have heard other pastors and theologians say that grace is the empowering presence of God- and this description seems most in line with who I know God to be, and lines up with His heart and character. Often times when I am really going through it, when I am enduring unfair circumstances, trials that don't end and heart ache, I will ask God "Where is your empowering presence? What do I need to lean into right now that will strengthen me? What aspect of your character and heart do you want to impart to me right now?" And I spend time there until I feel released and settled inside. Sometimes this requires some serious wrestling with God until I get to that place, but this process has worked well for me in the past.

Then there are times when the grace- the empowering presence of God that has allowed us to endure a certain pressure, pain or circumstance-lifts. Like when someone holds an umbrella over your head in the rain and then the umbrella suddenly moves. You begin to feel the elements when you were once protected. . This is when things start to just not work anymore. Any grace you had is no longer enabling you to run, walk or even crawl in an area of your life. You can no longer just "muster up the strength" and push through it. To me, this feels much more like I have run into a brick wall than just needing to have a more expanded experience of God.

Let me tell you about my most recent experience of the grace lifting:

This fall, we decided to partially homeschool our almost 8 year old through something that is similar to a charter school. I made this decision under the assumption that I had to "fix" my relationship with my daughter that had been somewhat tumultuous given all of her health and behavioral struggles. God didn't tell me to do this, mind you. I did this of my own accord, and out of fear and a wonky mindset. We were essentially in the pressure cooker of dealing with her health issues, behavioral flares, all while homeschooling and IT. WAS. A. DISASTER. She hated it. I hated it. But being the stubborn "I must finish what I started " person that I am, I didn't want to change the course. Especially since that meant for her starting all over again at another school.

Then I fell flat on my face (metaphorically speaking, of course). I had NO energy. We couldn't get through a day without butting heads. My emotional health began to tank. And then I spoke to my friend/mentor, who knocked some sense into me. I IMMEDIATELY felt a rush of peace flood me. I knew the right thing to do was own my mistake with my child and look into transferring after Christmas. My daughter took it incredibly well and responded with so much grace about my mistake, and she begins her new school in January.

It would be easier sometimes to think that God has forgotten about us, or that it is simply too hard and maybe He is just trying to teach us a lesson, when really, He just moved the umbrella, and when we start to feel the rain and the elements of our circumstances, it is because he wants us to step back under His umbrella of grace and protection. Have you ever experienced the grace lifting? How do you identify it? How do you process it?Id love to hear in the comments!Andrea Jones
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