What’s grace got to do with it?
Yesterday I alluded to fifty shades of stinky when I mentioned my shame-filled epiphany. It became a defining moment in my life when I recognized and admitted to myself that I had a negative ongoing pattern operating in my relationships.
One such shade of stinky was attitudinal in nature. As in, flesh nature. Rude, dismissive, irritable, impatient, sharp…
Whether with the general population or at home, my stinky attitude was shame-filled fuel for the fire of painful relationship issues that needed redeeming. My shame-based beliefs had resulted in an adaptive behavior of pride that had to be rooted out by the Lord, with my (sometimes slow or resistant) cooperation.
For me, that meant a long journey of recognizing, admitting, owning, confessing, and repenting of living life through the shame grid by which I judged and reacted both inwardly and outwardly toward myself and others.
“Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” – Hebrews 12:14-15 NIV
There came a time when the first half of that scripture made a dent in my ‘pride wall’ and I realized it was speaking directly to me. Nancy, I’m talking to you. You make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy.
Talk about conviction! But that conviction was a good thing. A gift of grace, really. I knew one thing for certain – I had grown to not particularly like the ‘me’ I had become. Furthermore, I kept reinforcing that dislike due to those infernal ‘boomerangs’ – my internal bitter root expectancies. Through practice, I had honed shame’s opposing operational functions: the process of shutting down even while adapting behaviors designed to protect.
I had been hurt by other’s attitudes and spoken words. In turn, I grew to become prideful (not even recognizing that for the longest time!) in a felt need sort of way in order to protect myself. Somewhere along the line I also grew to expect that this is the way I would be treated so, sinfully and without tutoring, I learned to give it back. It came all too naturally. Therein was the problem…
When Holy Spirit through the Word of God gets your attention, it is with good cause for, “every scripture is God-breathed (given by His inspiration) and profitable for instruction, for reproof and conviction of sin, for correction of error and discipline in obedience, [and] for training in righteousness (in holy living, in conformity to God’s will in thought, purpose, and action)…” – II Timothy 3:16 AMP
In return for the loss of our BREs and PB&Js, God’s other column on His eternal statement is all about profitability. God’s way is a much richer way to live for He did not create us to be shame paupers.
I think the profitable for’s in the above II Timothy passage shed light on the steps we need to take toward losing our BREs and PB&Js in order that our loss might become our gain, just as Paul described in Philippians 3:8.
So when I had the scriptural epiphany, how did I go about reconciling that with my stinky attitude epiphany?
For starters, I had to lower my defenses (as much as I didn’t want to!) and be willing to listen and learn what Holy Spirit was trying to get through to me, ie.profitable for instruction.
Then, recognizing and admitting that the ways I was acting and reacting, both internally and externally, did not align with what scripture described as one who belongs to Christ. I was missing the mark (sinning) which meant I needed Holy Spirit’s truthful yet loving reproof and conviction of sin.
We weren’t done though. My PB&Js (personal bitter judgments) and BREs (bitter root expectancies) could only be counted as loss through correction of error in my ways of thinking and through discipline in obedience to God’s higher way of thinking and relating. Which, by the way, meant lowering myself in order to be lifted higher by Him.
Bearing in mind that pride goes before a fall, we will come down from Pride Mountain one way or another.That, too, is God’s grace.
All these steps are for training in righteousness. Learning to live holy is the antidote to the shame that ails us.
Dear Lord, I don’t want to keep reaping bitter fruit. Bring your grace to bear on my heart that I may be willing to be conformed to Your will in my thoughts, purposes, and actions. Thank you for Your grace. ♪