The Trouble with Grace

trouble-with-graceI’ve been passionate about the idea of grace for most of my adult life. Grace is kinda my thing. I even started a whole website and community for moms about it. You see, I grew up in a pretty legalistic church atmosphere and as soon as I realized that maybe they had it wrong (or at least out of balance) I felt compelled to share with the world that God’s love is boundless and his grace abundant.  So I set out to spread a message of grace, letting moms especially off the hook from trying to do it all perfectly.

For years with little ones at home, I convinced myself that grace said I didn’t need to spend an hour in the Word daily (like many churches had encouraged me to do). I thought grace meant I could get by with less Bible study. . .after all, I was a new mom with new demands on my time. So for a while I simply read a quick devotional book and then soon, no devotional book at all until one day I realized I hadn’t cracked open a Bible or clicked on a Bible app in months.

Grace had become by excuse. And by allowing it to be the thing that told me I didn’t even have to try, I was abusing its power.

Several years into my mothering journey with grace as my guide and I’ve discovered that although grace is central to the Gospel message and something every follower of Jesus needs to grasp in order to live an abundant life, it can get us into a bit of trouble if we don’t fully understand it.

As with everything in life, grace is most effective when fully understood, kept in check and balanced with the truth. The trouble is. . .many of us embrace freedom when we realize we don’t have to be perfect little Christians, often swinging the pendulum of grace way too far in the direction opposite we once stood.

My husband and I spent years in legalistic churches then eventually landed in a grace-filled body of Christ that lavished love and freedom on its families. We thought we’d found the perfect place to camp out and raise our kids until eventually that grace seemed out of balance for us. We’d gone from one end of grace to the other and we knew we couldn’t continue on that spiritual swing.

There are many things grace is and grace allows in our lives but there are just as many that it doesn’t. The trouble with grace comes when we fail to seek to balance its power with the power of the truth.

Grace = God’s unmerited favor.

It’s getting what we don’t deserve because he loves us that much. It fills in our gaps and covers us as we walk our spiritual journey of growing with God and learning to live like Jesus. It’s the unseen power that cheers us on each day to do better and be better than the day before.

This is grace. And this is what it’s not. . .

Grace is not an excuse to stop trying. Although grace says we don’t have to strive, it bids us to walk intentionally in the fullness of a life with Christ.

Grace does not take the place of our need for a Savior. We have access to his perfect grace because Jesus saved us from the reality of living without it.

Grace does not overpower the truth. It doesn’t negate the Word of God, but it is a filter with which to apply it to our lives. Which means, we can aim to live like Jesus without the pressure of having to do it perfectly and with the promise of forgiveness when we fall short.

Grace does not give us the freedom to do whatever we want. God’s Word provides guidelines that when followed, lead to a life well-lived. Grace helps us navigate those guidelines without falling into the trap of legalism.

Grace is not weak, it is fierce. It’s not double-minded and wishy-washy. Grace is intentional. Grace allows us to freely live a bold life that brings glory to God.

We may not find the perfect balance but the beauty of grace is that it covers us as we search for it. In her new book, Grace Not Perfection, author and business owner Emily Ley offers moms grace that will, in fact, let them off the hook. . .but in a good way, because she balances her encouragement with intention to live life well unto the One who created us, who uniquely knit together our families and provided the grace by which we can walk in freedom and joy.

grace-not-perfection

I’m still on my journey of grace and I learn more everyday about what grace is and what it was never meant to be. But God in his loving mercy is traveling alongside me, covering me every step of the way. As I walk with him, he shows me glimpses of grace through my triumphs and failures, sorrows and joys.

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. 2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV

YOUR TURN!

Have you struggled to find the balance between grace and perfection? What truth about God’s perfect grace can you stand on today?

Jess Wolstenholm || graceformoms.com

the-trouble-with-grace

Jess Wolstenholm is an author, blogger and freelance writer. Jess became passionate about developing simple faith tools when she began to navigate the spiritual development of her own young children. She launched
Gather & Grow in January 2017. Since the loss of her mom to pancreatic cancer in 2012, she’s focused on continuing the legacy of faith started by her wonderfully imperfect parents. Author of The Pregnancy and Baby Companion books, Jess contributes articles and resources about family and faith to Tommy Nelson, JellyTelly and The Huffington Post. When she isn’t writing, you can find Jess teaching kids at her home church or taking notes for the school PTO. She lives outside Nashville, Tennessee with her amazing husband, Dave and their two miracles, Hope (9) and Joshua (6).

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About Jessica Wolstenholm

Jess Wolstenholm is an author, blogger and freelance writer. Jess became passionate about developing simple faith tools when she began to navigate the spiritual development of her own young children. She launched
Gather & Grow in January 2017. Since the loss of her mom to pancreatic cancer in 2012, she’s focused on continuing the legacy of faith started by her wonderfully imperfect parents. Author of The Pregnancy and Baby Companion books, Jess contributes articles and resources about family and faith to Tommy Nelson, JellyTelly and The Huffington Post. When she isn’t writing, you can find Jess teaching kids at her home church or taking notes for the school PTO. She lives outside Nashville, Tennessee with her amazing husband, Dave and their two miracles, Hope (9) and Joshua (6).