Space and Grace

“You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus.”

(2 Timothy 2:1)

 

In the 2nd letter written to Timothy, Paul offers some wonderful words of encouragement to Timothy. He starts by reminding Timothy to remain steadfast and focused on the grace that comes from Jesus. I think these words from Paul can be an encouragement to us all. Here’s why:

 

Have you ever gone through a difficult time in your life? Yes, that is a rhetorical question because I already know the answer. We have all gone through trials. Ok, so, let me ask you another question. One only you can answer. How do you treat yourself during those times? Have you ever considered offering yourself grace?

 

I have found that when I am struggling, while I strive to trust God wholeheartedly and have no negative thoughts or feelings as a result, that doesn’t always happen. Ok, it rarely happens. I also find that I tend to feel even worse about myself and my situation when I don’t trust God. So, while that clearly means I need to focus my attention more on Jesus (as Paul tells Timothy to do in the midst of persecution and suffering), it also means that I need grace. Grace towards myself that can only come because of what God has done for me through Christ. And because of the Lord’s grace, I can be strong even during the most difficult of storms.

 

In addition to grace, I also find that I need to give myself space. If I am having a tough time, I can’t expect to instantly feel better. Just like when you recover from an illness, you don’t typically go to bed really sick and wake up feeling 100%. Instead, it typically takes some time to recover. The fever goes down. The sneezing decreases. The appetite slowly returns. In the same way, while there are times when a huge weight is lifted off our shoulders and we breathe a huge sigh of relief, more often than not, it takes time to recover. From the loss and grief. From the frustration and fear. From the sadness and insecurity.

 

But. With space and grace, you can get through it. I can get through it. Only because of the grace that is in Christ Jesus that Paul was writing to Timothy about. A lesson for one that can be applied to all. Be strengthened, friend, through this grace.

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Grow Where You Are Planted: A Lesson From A Mustard Seed

After she poured a few mustards seeds on our table to illustrate just how small they really are, I carefully picked one up and placed it in the crease of my Bible near Matthew 17 where Jesus tells His disciples that if they had faith as small as a mustard seed, they could move mountains. I just loved this reminder because God has been revealing to my own heart a lesson that centers around faith and planting and growth.

 Grow Where You Are Planted. 

What’s interesting about the mustard seed, I came to learn, is that from one mustard seed can come thousands more. As I started searching for more information on this tiny seed, I found that mustard seeds flourish in cooler weather but require a lot of watering. I can’t help but think this also applies to me. Maybe it does to you as well.

You see, it can be difficult to trust God enough to let go and allow Him to use you wherever He has you during this season of your life. Perhaps “where” you are planted is not so much a place, but an experience. Maybe this is a cooler period of your life. A more difficult time. And I know we all need the watering that is necessary to stay strong and thrive despite the difficulty.

For me, I try to regularly remind myself that God has me in this exact place in my life at this exact point in time for a reason. And that I need to focus on growing exactly where I am planted, rather than wrestling with my creator, the one who planted me, to try and force a change. Even if I could uproot myself and re-plant somewhere else, would the environment be just right for growth? I doubt it. After all, the master gardener knows what He’s doing, and doesn’t need any help from me.

Faith as small as a mustard seed that once planted and watered grows and grows and grows. That’s what I want. To grow where I am planted.

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The Surprising Thing I’m Learning to Love

Anyone who knows me will be surprised by what I am learning to love. Especially my friends who had the <ahem> “pleasure” of being in zumba class with me.  After huffing and puffing my way through a few of those high energy moves, I would have to take a  break. But I was the only one sitting on the sidelines. I think the real problem is that I have always hated exercise. Don’t get me wrong, I know exercise is a good, really necessary part of life. I have just been more of a fan of activities that happen to be exercise at the same time, such as dance classes. That’s actually why I tried zumba…because it incorporate dance. And while I adored the smiling face of the zumba instructor, these classes were much tougher than most of my dance classes because they were non-stop, high energy, start to finish. And I simply could not hang.

 But then…

I decided yet again to join a gym. And I started going. But I still didn’t like it. Until…

1) I realized that it was really helping reduce my stress level and 2) I found a friend that would go with me. Regarding #1, I told clients for YEARS that they should exercise regularly. There is plenty of scientific evidence that exercise helps improve mood and mental health. Even the Center for Disease Control recognizes this (http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/everyone/health/index.html#ImproveMentalHealth)!

I have always been aware of the benefits and even recognized them for myself, but lately, it has been even more apparent. I am more motivated to engage in the dreaded “E” word knowing that it really does help reduce anxiety and increase those feel good endorphins. Regarding #2, y’all, time really does fly when you are working out with a friend. And talk about multi-tasking! You are able to catch up with a friend while also getting physically and emotionally healthier. Score! What’s funny is that even when I wind up at the gym by myself, I find that I am more used to exercising longer and am able to hang in there by myself. Go me. Go YOU!

There are so many benefits of exercise. And I know many of us don’t actually like exercise, but most of us love how it makes us feel. So, yeah, I am learning to love exercise. And for your own emotional wellness, I encourage you to try and fall in love with it too. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll even try zumba again one day…

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