“Grace that will pardon and cleanse within.”
I am reminded lately of how BADLY and DESPERATELY I need God’s grace. You see, I am part of the “Self-Esteem Generation.”
“You can do anything,” our society (and sometimes parents) tells us. “You just have to set your mind to it.”
Um…unfortunately (or fortunately?) NOT TRUE.
“You’re smart and beautiful and completely wonderful!” “Indulge yourself–you deserve it!” These and other feel-good statements burst from magazines (ironically enough, paired with headlines like “Lose 10 lbs Fast” and “173 Ways to Be More Organized”).
So tell me…have you bought into this? I most certainly have. There are certain areas where I’ve never had high hopes for myself (I will never be a size 2, or even a 4, and I’m okay with that. I won’t be singing with Tony Bennett anytime soon, even though I like to at home. My paintings will not sell for $1,452,000 on eBay.), but one area where I’ve been consistently built up is the Smarts Department. I graduated with a 4.0. I scored relatively high on my ACT and got accepted before my senior year into schools I wanted with scholarships. I had nicknames like “Brain” in high school (though I didn’t like that so much). All of this fed my pride and made me look down on those whom I had deemed less smart than myself.
This pride took a blow in college. I was one of many, many over-achievers and smart kids. I didn’t bother trying for straight A’s anymore because I wanted time for some fun. I even slacked off a bit in some classes.
That was an aside, simply to illustrate that even though I knew I wasn’t Top Dog anymore, I still had this amazing pride that I could DO and BE anything.
Until this year, I didn’t realize what damage this pride would do to me. It carries with it a horribly overgrown sense of entitlement. For instance, I feel entitled to:
1. A perfect husband
2. A fuss-free baby
3. Being able to stay home with my daughter without having to worry about $
4. Friends without flaws or sins of their own
5. Harboring feelings of anger indefinitely for sins (or even just faults) in others’ lives.
I cling to these things stubbornly. I ignore the log in my own eye while trying to fish the speck out of others’.
The grace of God comes without strings. It is FREE. But I think the truth in the lyrics to the old hymn at the beginning of this post hold weight. Grace means pardon. It means that I have done something that warrants pardon. Grace does NOT mean that God simply ignores all my sins and faults and loves me anyway, which is a common teaching today. It means he hates my sins and faults and loves me enough to help me get past them, to overcome them by His grace. He pardons (freely forgives), but also cleanses.
Today I’m praising Him for his pardon and cleansing that will help me continue to battle my pride, my sense of entitlement. Thank You, Father!