I like the word “grace”. It’s a word that has pleasant connotations, like “gift of grace”, “grace of God”, Amazing Grace, saying “grace” before a meal. It’s like walking into a house where a batch of fresh cookies has just come out of the oven. It’s sweet, comforting, tranquil. I have been trying to be more intentional about salting my language with the word “grace”, like encouraging my children to give each other a little grace for their mistakes, asking my coworkers or other servers in public for a little grace for MY mistakes or oversights. I ask God for grace and mercy every day.
So, as I mentioned in one of my posts last month (The Reciprocation Expectation), I have restarted a Bible Study/Devotional book called “This Morning With God.” (Henceforth referred to as TMWG). It has a passage of Scripture to read each day with an average of 10 questions about the passage. Some of the questions are observational, some are more applicational. But no answers are given, or even any commentary. It’s just me, God, and His Word. I also mentioned that this is AT LEAST my third time attempting to go through this devotional. The reason is because when I have attempted it before, I became very legalistic about it. You see, it’s not only organized by days (i.e. Day 1, Day 2, etc.), but also by months and years. So, I am currently in Year 1, Month 1, Day 26. A little daunting for an analytical (key root word: anal) fellow like me, who feels the need to stay on track. In addition, the questions sometimes have sub-questions, like “Compare and contrast the people’s responses to a) Jesus; b) John the Baptist; c) the disciples; d) the Pharisees.” Impact on me? More daunt. So if you get through each day and stay on track, the Introduction says you should get through the whole Bible in “a little over four years.” (insert blank face)
And so with good intentions, I would dive in and resolve to spend This Morning With God and get deep and this time “i’m onna do it” and before you know it, it’s two weeks later but I’m only on Day 6 of my study and it gets more and more discouraging until I just quit altogether. For another few years. And then remember this study I want to do and dust it off and do it all over.
So I started again last month. But this time, I decided to do it differently. I decided that I wasn’t going to be legalistic about whether or not I could do it every day. In other words, if it was the 15th of the month, but I was only on Day 10 of the study, that would be ok. And if I didn’t understand a question or didn’t have time for ALL of the questions or sub-question, that would be ok. In other words, I have decided to give myself some grace. I have decided to flick off the little devil on my one shoulder who teases and sneers and guilts me for missing a day or skipping questions, and instead listen to the little angel on my other shoulder who is encouraging me to just do what I can, when I can. If I miss a day of questions, I can still feed on the truths I learned from yesterday’s questions, I can still meditate on the applications, and I can still talk with God in prayer today, and then pick up on the next set of questions tomorrow. In short, I’ve decided I will “grace myself”. After all, if God is willing to give me grace for much more serious flaws and shortcomings, who am I to not bestow grace upon myself?
And it has been very liberating. I started Day 1 in TMWG on December 24th, 2012. I’m on Day 27 in the study, which means I’ve missed a few days. But I’m still moving forward and I’ve learned so much and I’m still excited about plugging along. In fact, I look forward to getting into it each morning and am almost to the point where I MISS not doing my study. If I’m not careful, this could turn into a habit.
Hmmm…. maybe I should grace myself a little more often.