My personal theme for the year was grace. I’m a big fan of it … both the receiving and giving of grace. And when I get to the end of the year, retrospective nostalgia settles in. I decided to channel it with the help of one of my IRL (in real life) girlfriends. Together we rounded up our 10 favorite posts from Middle Places about grace. With three years of rich content, there was plenty to choose from and we had a blast scrolling through the archives. It was so hard to choose just 10! I even decided to create a new grace printable just for you.
As we come barreling to the end of 2015 (how did that even happen?) take a moment to breath in some grace. Watch for an opportunity to extend it to someone you love and someone you don’t even know. Because, guess what? The Giver of grace has already poured it out on you. Lavishly. Extravagantly. (And be sure to scroll all the way to the end of the post to download your own copy of the print pictured above.)
Grace for the hard days:
When You Need to Hear a Story by Lindsey Smallwood
I lean in and listen as He tells of a King and a kingdom that’s everything I’ve ever wanted and nothing like I expect. Here, in my bleary eyed tiredness, my feelings of inadequacy, the exhaustion that seems sustained, I find my heart softening at the necessary reminders that I am not made for this world, but a new one.
It is (already) well… by Dana Portwood
I pondered this today as we sang “It is well with my soul.” It’s such a beautiful song of comfort, praise and victory. I thought about why and how it was written, as a boat floated gently over the watery graves of the author’s four children. I’m certain that at the time of writing his sorrows did roll like sea billows and his soul was filled with questions and regret. And yet, what he chose to say at that very moment was, “It is well.” Not it will be well, or “time heals all wounds”, or “one day I’ll move on from this”, but it is already well. Even when the questions have no answers and the end seems distant and dark, it is already well.
“Be gentle with yourself.” One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received, woven with love during the hardest season of my life. And although this week wasn’t as hard as that season, I’ve taken that advice to heart and am learning my own limits. Often I get it wrong and am forced to learn my lessons the hard way, but this week, this week I got it right.
Grace for parenting:
Between Justice & Mercy: A lesson in Parenting with Grace by Sasha Johns
I had to walk away immediately because I was so upset. More than being upset at the broken thing, I was upset because I knew how I had to punish her. I was angry (there I said it) because I knew that our fun road trip had just been put on hold indefinitely. I was somewhere in the middle of knowing I had to be the parent she needed, and the desire to be the cool parent that would let it go. The latter would have served only me, and it would have only served me for the moment.
Grace for the perfectionist:
Embracing the Walk by Maria Davis
Today as I began my walk it was with a pang of bitterness at the start. Why, when I was trying so hard to make my body a fit temple for the One who resides in me, did I have to suffer an injury? It just didn’t seem fair, but rarely does life seem fair. But today, I wasn’t walking alone. I was walking with a friend. And as we walked along at a wonderfully brisk pace, we talked and encouraged one another and grew our friendship a little bit more. As we walked, I was able to smile and wave at other friends who were running or walking. As we walked I was able to enjoy the beauty of winter. As we walked, my knee grew a little bit stronger and I felt no pain. As we walked I realized that those were things that would not have happened if I had taken off in a run.
On Planners, Post-it Notes & Grace by Maria Davis
Sometimes grace looks like a planner and a Siri reminder to go check your planner and make a list every morning. And maybe another reminder at 10 a.m. Because I ignored the first one. And maybe one more at 11. Because maybe grace is more about knowing our strengths and our weaknesses and working on them. But it’s also about having a backup plan.
And for me, grace is knowing that even when I fail and chaos rules my life, God loves me anyway. And He is ultimately the one that holds me all together. Because He is not about chaos, but He sure does know what to do with it.
In the Middle of Perfect Imbalance by Sasha Johns
There was me way over on one side of the scales trying to cope and balance all of those things by myself those first few days.
And then my friends and family way over on the other side … until I nodded … and then they all came rushing over
(I can’t help but smile here) to once again make me perfectly imbalanced.
Let it Go: The Perfection Trap by Dana Portwood
The lie of perfectionism is that we can make things perfect. But the truth of God is that we have already been made perfect and there isn’t anything left for us to do. We can’t earn it; we can only own it. Ownership is hard. It means we take responsibility for the mess. We even embrace the mess and call it our own because it’s perfected, and anything we might aspire to do can only ever be a cheap imitation of what has already been done, and is still being done in us and for us.
Grace for the Church:
In the Middle of the Imperfect Church by Heather Truett
She’s a beautiful bride
in a dress of ripped lace,
a gun in her purse
and a keychain of mace.
We spit on her clothes,
and we forget who she is.
The Bridegroom is coming,
and this Lady is His.
When Church is the Answer by Rachel Oliver
I’ll be honest, my expectations for the church body are high, and sometimes I forget that churches are made of up imperfect people. Most have really good, God-honoring intentions and vision, but they, like all of us, fail sometimes. And that’s where grace and forgiveness comes in. And sometimes the very best place to find those things – and the healing that they bring to our own hearts – is through renewed fellowship with other believers in church.
Download the free grace printable by visiting our Members’ Resource Library or signing up to become a member on the form below:
So tell us … what does grace look like in your life? How are you learning to embrace it?