Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Grace; the power by which we are able to do hard things

The Togetherness Project
October 2014

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Music: Grace by David Tolk


I don't pretend to know everything about Grace.
I'm not Brad Wilcox and I don't hold a high position in the church.
... and
I don't have what one might consider 'credentials,' on the topic.

But I do know something of Grace, because I have been...
... found by it
... touched by it
... encompassed by it
... healed by it
... rescued by it

The story, of which, I share here and here..

* * *

So, what is Grace?


We know that Grace has many powers, but how do those powers actually manifest in our lives?

I posed this question to the women I presented to, and was honored by their responses (paraphrased):
"Grace helps us find our rock bottom, when we can't find it ourselves."
"Grace has given me the physical strength necessary to do what I need to do."
"As I let Grace into my life, I am given the desire and strength to forgive."
"I feel Grace speak to me and guide me through the hard decisions that lay ahead."
There are many powers of Grace that He uses to:
  • Comfort us
  • Validate us
  • Heal us
  • Raise us up
  • Relieve us
The list is endless and unlimited, and we are free to call on them at any and all times.

* * *

Barriers to Grace

As many powers as Grace has to offer, there are just as many barriers to accessing them:
  • Lack of faith
  • Lack of understanding
  • Feelings of unworthiness
  • Isolation
  • Pride
  • Unwillingness to ask for help
  • Fear of judgement
  • Fear of change
  • Fear of __________ (insert)
  • ... and shame
"Shame, for women, is this web of unobtainable, conflicting, competing expectations about who we're supposed to be. And it's a straitjacket." - Brene Brown
"Shame . . . is an attack on our character, on our very being, on who we are; a deviant assassination on God's very own creation." - Sidreis Keller Agla
The list is lengthy, because there is no tool that the adversary is not willing to use to keep us separate from the love of our Savior; from His saving Grace.

Fortunate for us, our Savior's power is much greater than the enemy to our soul, and He is willing to do all that it takes to keep us close to Him.

* * *

Breaking Down Barriers

Throughout my recovery, I have discovered three major mindsets that have hastened my journey, ultimately bringing me closer to my Savior.

The Twelve Steps of Recovery
I have adopted the Twelve Steps of Recovery into my life.
I don't just work them, rather, I live the principles they teach.

I do not advocate any one particular twelve step program. I advocate all of them:
And many many more.

Each program teaches principles, and provides literature, that can be a great strength to us.

Becoming a Seeker of Knowledge
I asked questions in order to gain a better understanding of addiction, addictive behavior, how the Lord perceived me, and really - anything else that I felt would benefit me.

Seriously, Amazon loves me.

I researched as much material on addiction and began buying a whole collection of recovery books.

I read them.
And then I read them again.

I talked to people.
I asked them about their experience.
I asked them what they learned.
I listened to them.
And, I chose to believe them.

The Power of Belief
In the end, with all the information I had gathered, there was still one thread left holding me back from a life of freedom.

I had to believe.

I chose to set fear and doubt aside and believe:
  • The program
  • The books
  • Those in my group
  • My Sponsor
  • My Bishop
  • In myself
  • And, Christ.
trusted Him; and trusted that the burning feeling that my belief sometimes lacked would eventually come.

That is the beauty of belief.
We can do it anytime, independent of anything else.
We can freely give it any time, whether we have a burning testimony, or not.

The ultimate act of trust and humility.

To raise our hands high and solemnly declare, "I believe you."
"Faith is stepping into the darkness and trusting that the light will follow." - Unknown
* * *

Does Grace free us from pain?

Yes, and no. More so, it embraces our pain.

Meet, Aaron-Hulk.
He's my youngest.
And, he suffers from chronic nosebleeds.
Looks pretty tough doesn't he?



He is a little toughy...  most of the time.

But those moments, at 2....3....4 in the morning when he wakes to his face covered in blood;
bleeding
broken
scared 
All due to a condition he didn't ask for or do anything to cause.
That is when the toughness melts into a humble puddle of goodness.

Those moments are special to me.
The moments he calls out to me, confident that I am right there.
That I will come running at his first peep of need.

They are special because I get to wrap him up in my arms.
I get to whisper to him:
It's ok
I know it's scary
I'm so sorry you are bleeding
Let me clean it for you; wash it away.

I get to hold him as he cries; comforting him in his most terrifying moments
And stay there until his eyes again begin to droop, reentering a blissful slumber.

It is in those moments that the greatest attachments with him are born and nurtured.
It is in those moments, when we are bleeding and broken, that our greatest attachments to our Savior are born and nurtured.

How glorious is that?                                                                            
* * *

No Expectation

One aspect of Grace that I didn't understand, but learned as I prepared this presentation, is that Grace has no expectation.

Think about it.

Grace does not tell us, 'I will comfort you for X amount of time, but then you have to:
... get up
... be happy
... stop moping
... forgive'




Seriously, that's all He wants.

The opportunity to sit with us and comfort us.
Simply to be near us.

Although not expected, when we allow Him to be near us, our desire to get up, to be happy, to stop moping, and to forgive naturally increases. A natural progression; we cannot help but do otherwise when we let His Grace into our lives. When we let Him sit with us, comfort us, warm us and heal us.

One of the greatest gifts He gives us is the power of empathy and validation.
More specifically, He gives us His empathy and validation.

Take a moment and listen to this song.
No expectations.
No Assignments.
Just listen, and let the His validation wash over you.


Here's to you!

* * *





The Togetherness Project
October 2014

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Thank you for sharing a moment with me:-)

Ezekiel 34:11-12,16

"For thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out. As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day. I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick"