For me, grace was theoretical for most of my life. While growing up, I knew God said I was loved and forgiven, but I didn’t expect to receive anything that would prove that. I built a wall between God and myself that kept me from tangibly experiencing grace. I found out that if you don’t have expectations, then you can’t be disappointed. If you don’t request anything of anyone, then you don’t have to face rejection. After all, you can live happy knowing that you are loved and chosen without feeling it, right? Well, no, not really. But, that is how I lived much of my life before I met Jen and started building a relationship with her.
Jen is not one to let my walls interfere with our relationship and as a result, I had to learn to face my fear of rejection. I had to learn to trust her and she proved to me time after time that no matter how many times I sin, she wouldn’t give up on me. Some of you know our story that we shared in Pure Eyes, Clean Heart: A Couple’s Journey to Freedom from Pornography. I recounted the numerous times that Jen had to endure discovering my porn use and still choose to stay engaged in our relationship.
Instead of condemning me and attacking me, she continued to fight with and for me even when I tried to withdraw and run away from it. That was my normal way of dealing with conflict. If the walls didn’t hold it out, then just ignore it, don’t deal with it, let it go, it would eventually go away. Fortunately for me, Jen doesn’t work that way and her persistence, patience, and love were key to my recovery. The grace she chose to give me also gave me strength to fight my own battles and this led me to discover that God was just like Jen. (The reality is, though, that Jen was modeling God and it was really only because of His grace that she was able to show it to me. Just to clarify, Jen's not nearly perfect like God is.)
See, Jen modeled God’s love for me in such a way that I could see Him through her actions. After reflecting back on my walk through these hard places in our life together where I allowed Jen to help me through them, I know now that God has never and will never reject me, regardless of my choices. That was a hard lesson for me to learn. It took time and a lot of experience, but by accepting this, it has allowed me to give others the opportunity to choose me and show their love as well, thus making both my life and their lives richer, more full.
Now, if I encounter rejection, it’s ok to feel that pain and loss, but I am who I am in Christ. That gives me courage, hope, and the capacity for love and forgiveness. This is only possible because I experience grace and allowed it to change me forever.
Who has modeled grace for you? How has receiving grace changed your heart and your interactions with others?