Refusing grace

If we’re being honest, how many of us would say we like to be the exception?

You know what I mean. The person who doesn’t have to study for an exam to ace it. The guy who can pick up bonuses without any added effort. The girl who can start working out after a month off and lose all the weight she wanted in a day.

The list could go on. There is something inside of us that wishes we were the exception to the rule. We would be the ones who could be above a certain system. We desire the outcome without the input. We set unrealistic expectations for ourselves and get frustrated when we can’t reach them.

And then a bout of paralyzing perfectionism settles in. We get angry when we try something and we aren’t instant pros at it. We want to be the best we can be but we despise ourselves for falling short not just once, but many times.

For me, my issue came in with running. I knew I’d been good at it before, but I also knew I had taken a month off from hardcore training. But still, I maintained that same level of expectation for my body. I needed to be able to jog two miles in _______ time. I needed to run at this rate and only walk for cool-down.

So, when I got outside in the sweltering heat and only ran half a mile, I was discouraged. I thought if I just put my mind to it then I’d be physically capable. But that’s not how life works.

In order to get results, reaping must be done. Training must occur. Consistency must become second-nature.

Philippians 3:12 reads, “Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.”

Paul realized sanctification, or growing/maturing in his faith, was not a one-step thing. It was a process, something that required daily attention and priority. Paul didn’t refuse to give himself grace in this moment. Instead, he realized his shortcomings and used them as motivation for his pressing on.

Coming to the understanding that I wouldn’t run my race perfectly from the get-go, I began to allow myself some grace. I might not be a pro today or tomorrow, but it would be my diligence and dedication that would make the greatest impact for the future.

God doesn’t look at us and expect perfection in and of ourselves. He knows we are human, that we will worry and fret, doubt and fear. But you see, He also knows we are not on our own as Christians. In fact, we have the resurrection power of the Holy Spirit stirring inside of us day in and day out. In His strength, we can grow in the tough times. In His power, we can push in the hard seasons. In His love and grace, we can rejoice in our successes when we hit those mile-markers of growth in our faith. In Him, we have victory and that abundant.

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