Fighting with grace

Someone recently told me I was a fighter. When I hear stuff like that, I’m never sure how to respond. I’d like for you to think of me as a fighter. Well, not necessarily a fighter, but competent, proficient, worthy. Your opinion of me matters more than I care to admit.

It’s not that I expect people to always agree with me or even like me for that matter. What I want, what I crave, is for people to see me as capable and acceptable. One of my worst fears isn’t failure; it’s being afraid I will appear incompetent. It’s in the opinion you have of me because of my carefully worded Facebook post. It’s in the impression I make on the gym floor when my mind tells me that my body must not appear to be weak. It’s how I come off when I stand in front of people and speak.

As I’m doing these things - a subtle manipulation of words or actions here and there to make me look competent - I’m not really consciously aware of it. But later...I’m convicted. I hate dishonesty. I hate fake. That makes my self-righteousness all the more disturbing. But...I don’t know that fake is the best word to describe it. It’s more like I’m hiding. I’m shielding myself from being vulnerable for fear that you will see who I really am and then you will know the truth. I’m not competent. I’m not capable or proficient or worthy. At least not in the way my crooked mind wants me to prove myself as being.

This is a constant struggle with me. I long for inclusion, acceptance, credibility. I’m desperate for those things. And I get them...but only when I stop. Stop worrying and fretting. Stop being anxious of the opinions of others. Stop depending on security and stability in other people. Stop relying on myself to produce. It’s only when I stop fighting, stop fighting with grace.

I fight grace. I shove the undeserved, abundant favor of God aside to make room for paltry and puny opinions of others. That includes myself. This is an ongoing battle with insecurity and pride. I guess it stems from my childhood. Isn’t that the excuse for everything?

Now that I have children of my own, I wonder what psychosis I’m instilling in them. But no matter how far I roam or stray in my thinking, the God of the universe brings me back to His reality.

And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9a

The He is Jesus and the quoted words are red-lettered. His grace is sufficient. So there’s nothing else needed. That’s it. It’s done. No manipulation of words. No hiding of flaws. No proving of worth. That is it. Grace.

Those words from Scripture were recorded by Paul. They are God’s response to Paul’s complaining of a thorn in his side, a tormentor. He pleaded with God to take it away. Not just once, but three times. But God didn’t take away the thorn, the irritation. Instead, He said, “I am enough. My grace is enough. I am bigger than your problem. I am bigger than your pain.”

Paul agreed, and said God gave him the thorn to keep him from being conceited, from thinking it was all about him. Paul decided to boast about his weaknesses, because through them, God’s power is made perfect.

I have a lot of weaknesses. So it looks like I have a lot of opportunities to show God’s power. Yes. His grace is sufficient. His grace is enough. Instead of fighting with grace, I will choose to embrace grace. Instead of fighting with grace, fighting against the grace of God, I will choose to fight my battles with His grace. What an absolute difference that makes.

My friend, Jaime, recently pointed out to me I have an opportunity “to set an example of how to live gracefully with an ungraceful disease.” She’s talking about RA, but it really applies to any disease - or irritation like Paul’s - whether physical, spiritual or whatever.

May I indeed fight the things of this world with His grace. May I set an example of how to live gracefully with an ungraceful disease.