Grace. A word I have heard my whole life, but did not really understand the magnitude of until a few years ago. Moved by the realization of my great need, I started focusing on the phrase, “breathe in grace.” As in, I mean I had it painted on a canvas and hung in my house where I’d see it every day—that is how much I felt I needed to experience grace! This concept has been life changing for me and let me tell you why.
My name is Casey and I am a perfectionist.
If you know me at all, that fact is probably obvious. This perfectionist trait has brought about much order, focus, and productivity; it has also brought much grief, frustration, and unnecessary anxiety in my life (and the lives of those closest to me). So, what role does grace have in the life of a perfectionist like me?
Growing up in the church, the concept of grace in general was not difficult for me to accept. I had heard it often and it was what I knew to be fact. However, as my faith became my own, and as I experienced life’s hurts, difficult circumstances that did not make sense, and sin becoming more exposed, I began to realize what this concept of grace really meant in my daily life.
I will be honest, as a perfectionist, grace is really hard to grasp. Grace is an unmerited, free gift. No amount of dedication, hard work, organization, or systematic approach can explain or earn grace. In Ephesians 2:8-9, we learn “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.” Deserving grace has nothing to do with me or you, but everything to do with Him.
Once I understood grace a little more personally, my journey with grace led me to two main realizations:
1. First of all, I must accept grace.
This is critical. If I do not choose to accept grace, then grace ends with God extending it to me. It becomes like a gift given, but never opened and enjoyed. God offers it freely, but I have to make the choice to take it. And I have to choose to accept grace daily. About 5,000 times a day, to be more exact. Personally, this means accepting grace when my to-do list does not get done, or when I have fallen short, or messed up. I am human. There is sin in this world (stupid serpent). BUT God is all-present, all-knowing, all-powerful, and (praise the Lord) ever so gracious.
2. Second of all, I must give grace.
If accepting it for myself was and is not hard enough, now I have to extend it to others? This might sound harsh, but, let me remind you, I am a perfectionist. I tend to have high expectations of others as well as of myself, and often times, those expectations stay in my head and go unsaid. Unsaid expectations can be the killer of relationships...I could write another blog post on that statement alone. All that to say, I must extend grace to my husband, my daughter, my friends, my church, and the list goes on. They are not perfect, nor should I expect them to be. God’s grace was given to me freely and it saved my soul for all of eternity. If I am to look more like Christ, I have to extend His grace freely and overwhelmingly.
My hope is that regardless of our personalities or tendencies, you and I will make the choice to breathe in grace daily and share it with those around us. Will you make that choice?
Meet the Author!
Casey Yates is a wife, mom, daughter, sister, friend and speech-language pathologist. Casey loves all things Christmas, British historical fiction, walks, pie and coffee. Lots of coffee.