The places I’ve seen the most grace soaked up and squeezed out are within the walls of Recovery Groups. Rooms that echo the words, “Hello my name is —, and I’m a —” are some of my favorite because there is transparency. Out of utter desperation, men and women expose and embrace that which makes them weak and are transformed because of it. They beautifully embrace others in their exposure of that which they most wanted to hide. Richard Rohr says; “The very failures and radical insufficiency of our lives are what lead us into larger life and love“. This ony happens by grace, and the greater the recovery, the greater the grace.
Recently, a friend of mine disappointed me by some of the choices she made. My knee-jerk reaction was one of judgment and condemnation. I felt as if I had been let down; as if all of the work undergone in helping her make better choices had been mine. I felt as if I were a coach whose team just lost the final game and the competition wasn’t even better. I soon realized that I had become the Pharisee who judged and condemned the prostitute while she let Jesus embrace her by washing his feet with her hair and her tears. I need more recovery–and more recovery of the grace I have been given.
She has been forgiven of all her many sins. This is why she has shown (me) such extravagant love. But those who assume they have very little to be forgiven will love (me) very little.Luke 7:47 TPT
Max Lucado says; “The more we immerse ourselves in grace, the more likely we are to give grace”. Grace and forgiveness go hand in hand. The more we soak them up, the more we have to give. Reminding myself of my radical insufficiencies and the amount of forgivenes I actually needed was the key to giving grace when I really didn’t want to.
Paul tells us to boast in our weaknesses (2 Cor 12:9). David failed many times and is still called a man after God’s own heart. Jesus says “Blessed are the meek” (Mt 5:5). All of these men know that awareness of our human condition is the key to living a life of peace, joy, and love because it is the key to our need for, and love of, grace. Learning to be content with who we are, in all our imperfect glory is the doorway to lives filled to overflowing with grace. Recovery groups are breeding grounds for this. If you find yourself having difficulty giving grace to others, see if you have something you have not yet exposed to the tender eyes of mercy, and let it bring you to your knees.
God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.James 4:6b
I recently saw The Mustang, a true story about an inmate who breaks a wild mustang. What I just realized, however, is that Roman (the main character) was not able to break the horse until he, himself, was broken. When he went in with an attitude of superiority and force, he was unable to connect with the horse. But when he was beat up, thrown to the ground, and broken–failing miserably in his attempts, he was given another chance and began to relate to the horse differently. He realized they were on even ground, they both had been too wild to be tamed, and it worked. That’s what grace does–it levels the playing field among us so that we can grow together. Sometimes we just need to get a bit lower to get to the field where we can play.
photos by Jon Tyson, Riffaay Firmansyah, and movie image