Remembering Grace

This past Sunday, in honor of Pentecost, seeded paper was placed in each bulletin at our church. The idea was that you could plant it and wildflowers would grow. During a song, we were to write words and phrases that came to mind when we thought of Highlands. Some came easily: Redemption… Practicing Upside-Down Kingdom… And then I wrote, Celebrating imperfect gifts and my eyes filled with tears.

While this is one of the things I love most about our church – that everyone can serve; that no one is excluded – I tend to judge one part of the service harshly. I mentally criticize tiny details and I wonder why we can’t just do better in this one area. The thing is, I know I’m in the vast minority with my griping. Most people adore this area of our service and come to our church specifically for this experience. Clearly, it’s my own petty issue.

Part of Highlands' ethos: "For all of us grace here."
Part of Highlands’ ethos: “For all of us grace here.”

On Sunday, as soon as I read Celebrating imperfect gifts on my paper, I realized how I did not celebrate the imperfect gifts of others. I relished in the acceptance and embrace of my own imperfections, and yet I refused to extend this same grace to others.

I need to remember that our church is made up of pastors who give more of their time than they receive in salaries. It’s made up of volunteers who give hours and hours of their time to keep it running. Why on earth would I expect perfection when amazing things are being done simply because people love – love Christ, love Highlands, and love their neighbors.

I need to remember that Jesus founded the church on imperfections. Lists have already been made of all the imperfections in church history – from the Old Testament’s Abraham, Moses, and David to the New Testament’s Peter and Paul, perfection certainly has never been a requirement of faith. If anything, it seems to detract from a person’s ability to fully experience the grace and love of Christ.

So, I need to shift my reactions and choose grace. I need to recognize my own imperfections and remember that grace is the reason I am loved and received at Highlands. When I feel critical, I need to choose grace. And, as with all practices, the longer I choose grace, the less I will notice these “imperfections” and simply be open and willing to love my church family.

Do you struggle with extending grace? Where’s an area in your life that you need to choose grace?

Linked with (in)courage Grace Writers group’s Defining Grace.

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24 thoughts on “Remembering Grace

  1. Annie, thank you for humbly sharing your struggle to extend grace. I am right with you. This line was especially convicting: “. I relished in the acceptance and embrace of my own imperfections, and yet I refused to extend this same grace to others.” Thanks for a great post! #gracelinkup

  2. Annie, your words invite me, and I imagine many others, to see our sin in this area — being critical or picky about church. I don’t know why that seems to be a place I struggle more with this. But it is always so sweet when God reveals my lack of grace toward others by showing his insurpassable grace for my sin!

    1. I wonder if it’s so easy at church in the same way as it’s easy to be critical of our families. We assume that unconditional love and grace. Such a good reminder of God’s insurpassable grace!

  3. Such a daily struggle, isn’t it?? I find that so often I am pointing out the splinter in someone else’s eye while failing to see the log in my own .. So glad you’ve shared this! May God grant us the grace to extend the same grace to others ..

  4. this is a great reminder because i struggle not with expectations of what the ideal church should be, or how it should serve my needs, even more than that its me, how I expect myself to worship better and when i fall short how quickly do i criticize myself for not being enough. God used this post to encourage me that He doesn’t ask me to fill the church gaps or life gaps, He fills them for me and brings to the table more than enough to satisfy my expectations when i allow myself the freedom to see Him.

    1. Yes – the flipside is filling those gaps ourselves rather than allowing Christ to do it. I love the image of satisfying expectations at the table. Thank you!

  5. Oh, yes, do I ever struggle with extending grace. Especially with those I love the most. In my own home it seems to be lacking and that’s on my mind today in so many ways. You’ve reminded me that I’m not the only imperfect one…because I duly note that often. The fact is, my husband and kids are right there with me and they need and deserve my grace as much as I need it from them. As much as Christ did for me on the cross, when I choose to not give grace to others, it’s as if I’m saying what He did isn’t good enough. And that makes my face grimace as I type. This grace series couldn’t have started on a better day for me. God is using so many new friends to speak to me in such a beautiful way. Thank you for pouring out truth and grace today in your words. xoxo, Meredith

    1. “As if saying what He did isn’t good enough.” So convicting! And, so true. It’s one thing to receive grace, or even to work on extending it. But, remembering that all are given God’s gifts and talents, that brings it to a new level. Thanks for that reminder!

  6. Oh yes I struggle. I have this idea of perfection which I fall short. I struggle because it’s hard to extend grace even when you know you should.

  7. Annie, I so appreciate your honesty here. Yes, I’ve been the one who is quick to nitpick and slow to extend grace. And sometimes it’s with those I love the most. Choosing grace rather than criticism is a habit I need to work on. I’m thankful for your words, and your reminder in this line: “I relished in the acceptance and embrace of my own imperfections, and yet I refused to extend this same grace to others.”

    Beautiful, Annie!

  8. That was beautifully written Annie. And a much needed reminder for me. Thank you for sharing your discoveries as we all learn together!

  9. This is a great reminder. The more I learn about organizational success and best practices, the more I struggle with the church’s attempts to recruit any and all volunteers regardless of whether they are skilled in a certain area. The church is full of people who desire to serve, they don’t need other years of experience in order to do so. I’m challenged to accept the service others give, and hopefully, to help them learn more about their roles.

    Thank you for this!

    1. That’s a whole other conversation – helping people find their gifts and giving them space to practice and use them…. But, I look at areas I’ve volunteered with very little experience and all I’ve learned. Grace, right?

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