Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Extend Grace

People are flawed and wear their wounds like undergarments. That's why we have to grace those we love with forgiveness when their disappointments, misconceptions, and hurts overshadow their ability to be considerate, understanding, and loving. However, we need to recognize the difference between extending grace and overextending ourselves.

I used to live a lie. I put a smile on my face, forced myself to be in the company of people I shouldn't, and convinced others that my smile reflected how I felt. This lie stemmed from another—I believed that no one could or would want to care for me if they knew the depth of my brokenness. Who wants to be around the girl with such a troubled start?

I tried to hide not only the influence of my childhood, but that it even happened. Part of the problem was I'd been taught that offenses were to be forgiven rather than worked through. While I know its value, forgiveness should not be used as a means to ignore the truth and perpetuate hurt. My focus to forgive offenses rather than work through them limited my growth. Instead of pursuing peace I pursued "proof" of forgiveness—my smile and the ability to be in the company of those who hurt me. Fortunately, I don't live that lie anymore. While I extend grace to those who have hurt me in deed or by encouraging my silence, I no longer overextend myself by proving my level of forgiveness with unhealthy tests or by remaining in the company of those who inflicted such pain.

All of us carry remnants of our pasts that cloud our judgment. All of us are capable of making mistakes, even with those we love. We are not to seek perfection from others. We are to seek consideration, authenticity, kindness, and understanding and be considerate, authentic, kind, and understanding to ourselves. Just as we extend grace to others, we need to extend grace to ourselves by not giving so much that we lose sight of who we are and forfeit the essence within us all in the name of forgiveness.

Read last week's post, It's Your Choice.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

It's Your Choice

As children, our lives were largely shaped by the decisions of our parents and guardians. We couldn't dictate where we lived, who we were around, what types of foods we ate or the clothing we wore. As adults, we gained the gift of choice. Sadly, too many of us are locked in the same mentality that we held as children and willingly relinquish our ability to choose.

My childhood wasn't without challenges. I was around less than desirable people and put in some hazardous situations. As a result, in my adulthood, peace has become extremely important to me. I intentionally maintain a peaceful life. It has become so obvious that it's almost comical how quickly I will exit a situation or relationship when I feel uncomfortable and unsettled.

I wasn't always so decisive. I had to learn to make choices and make them wisely. There was a time when I felt very much like that little girl who did not have the ability to choose where she lived or with whom. For many years I remained in the company of those who brought on stress and anxiety. I did not believe I had a choice and that erroneous belief convinced me that I was powerless. However, my decision not to choose peace was still a decision. I was not powerless. I was choosing stress and anxiety by remaining in stressful and anxiety-producing situations. Being still does not always equate to being indecisive nor patient. At times being still is simply choosing where you are instead of choosing where you desire to be.

Failure or refusal to act is still very much a choice. It is a choice to remain. Most remain where they are because it feels safe and involves low or less risk. Where have you made a choice to remain? Unhappy? Unsettled? Overworked? Underemployed? Unappreciated? Depressed? Exhausted? Unfulfilled? You are not powerless. You are not required to live a life that someone else determined for you. You do not have to live out the expectations of others, no matter how lofty or lowly. This is your time. This is your life, but before you can exert your power, you must choose to acknowledge it and walk in it. It's your choice.