For the first time in my life I'm starting to acknowledge its very real presence. I mean, I always knew about it. I heard about it. I even talked about it.
But, to apply it to self? Not so much.
You see, I'm a good girl. I follow the rules (or become consumed with guilt). I usually drive the speed limit. I show up on time, or will call if I'm running late. I don't steal. I try to tell the truth. And I try to make sure my life and surroundings are in order.
And I've been pretty successful at creating my own private island of self-sufficiency. And on that private island my motto is, "I've got this under control. God, You did well when you made me because, look at me, I've pretty much got it together. I'll let you know if I need something, otherwise You are more than welcome to tend to those people who are starving, dying of diseases, or in the middle of Pretty Terrible."
Essentially, I thought I was put together, good to go, steady Freddy.
And if not, I would kill myself to be that way.
Until I came face to face with Grace.
And my overwhelming need for it.
And, to be quite honest, I didn't like it very much. Because, if I really looked at the situation, it meant I was in the same category as Those Other People aka the really, really bad sinners. And, yes, I'm well aware that I'm not perfect. I've made mistakes. I've done things I'm not proud of, and I would die if you knew all of my transgressions. But, surely God could see that I was making an effort to do it the right way.
To admit that I needed grace meant I couldn't handle it by myself. And perhaps I am a wretch of a person after all. And who wants to think about that? It's downright depressing.
I wrestle with Grace.
Grace I hope (and need) to receive. Grace that I hope to extend. But, admitting that I'm as much of a mess as others stings my pride. Oh, it hurts to admit my faults. It can be disturbing and numbing when your past mistakes, bad decisions, and sins come flooding to the front of your mind. Every wrong that you can't right, every hurtful thought, word, or deed. Every transgression. Every failure.
Oh, what a wretched wretch am I.
But, over and over and over this year I have been reminded that my chains are gone and I'm set free (thank you, Mr. Tomlin). I'm not able to do this by myself. I must remember daily, hourly, minute by minute that I am because He Was, and Is, and Is to Come.
This grace, this Amazing Grace, is one I'm learning more about each day. This Grace that floods over my sins, this Grace that poured out of His broken body, this Grace that fills every disgusting, horrible, and sinful hole in my life.
Thank God for Grace.