Specific Grace {#oneword365}

*A note before you read this. After doing an audit of my blog in 2022, I have decided to leave content that speaks to the Christian I was at the time this was written. I no longer identify as Christian (and haven’t for a very long time.) I chose to leave these posts because it is who I was then and it is important to me to be honest and true with every iteration and evolution of self that I experience. I may decide to add comments to the end of posts like this as well

Sin?

Me?

Pfft. If only everyone were even half as perfect as I.

Downpour James MacDonald

Until handed a list of possible areas of sin.  Until asked to rate my level of struggle with each specific sin.

{grace}

Recently (before I knew this list was coming) I’ve dwelt deeply with God in a difficult place. A place of learning, trust, unbelief, uncertainty. He has brought to my attention inappropriate behaviors.  He’s also been testing me in quite a big way. Giving (what I think are) clear directions then asking difficult questions presented as life-situations.

“to obey is better than sacrifice”

“Do you think all God wants are sacrifices— empty rituals just for show?  He wants you to listen to him! Plain listening is the thing, not staging a lavish religious production.”

It’s kinda hard to get into words all that God has me focusing on lately. His holiness. Obedience. Grace.  Theoretically, those three things go together like the Trinity.  When it’s drilled down and the microscope is on my life, though? When there’s a triangle of His holiness, His desire for obedience, and His grace circling around me?  Sometimes it’s overwhelming.

Like that list above.  I read it through marking low ratings for a bunch of stuff I don’t struggle with and felt pretty good.

Critical Tongue.  ouch.

Pride.  uhm. yeah.

Workaholic. guilty.

Opinionated. ding.

Stubborn. (can we just stop now??)

(God says: nope.)

Phil and I talk about some of this. How in our lives there are people who we call friends that find joy in our faults. They are happy when Phil and I have a little argument.  They remember it and bring it up and laugh and tell us how happy it makes them.  Truly, I find it disturbing that I can call them friends.  What does it say about me that I choose to surround myself and my family with those who choose to tear us down? Who would make such a choice?

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Knowing that, talking about it with my husband, asking God for direction–made me hesitate to write this post.  Because I know these same people will find joy in my admission of sin.  And when people rejoice at your pain, it’s hard to want to face it.

It’s also hard to share the areas of intense struggle.  Part of the focus for this week’s Downpour lesson is helping one another.  Since I’ve already divulged things I’d rather not speak of, since you already understand I won’t find a prayer partner in those who are made happy by negative things that occur in my life, then I can also tell you that most of my spiritual support comes from women online who desire to walk the path Christ has for them.

We are relatively new at our church and I’m making friends and forging new relationships. We broke into groups of 3 last week and discussed much of what I’m writing here. So the reason I’m sharing this stuff is because so many of you have been on this journey with me and I trust you.  Yes, there’s risk that people I don’t trust will be reading along as well…but I’m choosing to focus on the true things. And what’s true is that even though many of you are far away, I feel close to you because we share in our experiences and we share the Holy Spirit.

So this Holiness. Obedience. Grace…

it says to me “Follow me”

even if it doesn’t make sense (hello. Noah. Ark.)

even if people ridicule you and delight in your misfortunes (David. Paul.)

it says, “be holy for I am holy.”

it says, “Without faith, it is impossible to please the Lord.”

“Be still and know that I am God.”

“Man does not see what the Lord sees, for man sees what is visible, but the Lord sees the heart.”

“When you are weak, then are you strong.”

“For my grace is sufficient for you.”

{grace}

Specific grace for every last thing on that list from One who would never laugh or find joy in painful situations. 

Yes. I have a critical tongue and a critical spirit. I struggle with pride and the balance of self-worth vs. conceit, especially when people who supposedly love and care for you break you down when a negative comes into your life. Yep. I am a workaholic. I’m most definitely opinionated. And stubborn. Sheesh.  And I’m probably a ton of other things.

But I’m also forgiven. I’m His. I’m an heir to the throne. I’m loved and cherished.  And I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

I know this because I used to find pleasure in watching others suffer. And it’s only by His grace that I have been allowed to move beyond that.

If there is something you struggle with that you’ve not shared with someone, you can email me privately or if you feel so led, you can share with others who might need to hear your story.  (MLPendergrass at gmail dot com)

5 thoughts on “Specific Grace {#oneword365}”

  1. There are times I am convinced we are identical twins separately at birth. Your journey, your insight is so often exactly where I am. Thank you for your transparency, your honesty, your courage to blatantly put out there who, what and where you are. It is a beautiful and powerful thing. POO-POO on the nay sayers. Be obedient, speak the Truth, learn and grow. Thanks for taking me along for the ride ( you may not know it, but there are days, I am not just “along for the ride” but you are helping carry me!) Thanks friend. Love you to the depths of my soul. I only delight in your JOY, always. I shed tears for your pain and struggles. And thank God for your friendship every day!

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  2. I don’t think it’s ever easy to talk about areas of our life that we struggle in. I think it’s because we fear that people will judge us (and unfortunately it does happen – people, even Christians, are very judgmental). But sometimes I think that it’s when we share our struggles that people can ‘connect’ with us on a more personal, deeper level – it makes people feel like we trust them enough to share our issues.

    I love what you said when you said “And what’s true is that even though many of you are far away, I feel close to you because we share in our experiences and we share the Holy Spirit.”

    I’ve met some amazing Christian women through blogging and the online community!

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  3. I have to say this and it may not be popular. There’s an awful lot of words on there that I don’t consider a “sin.” Since when is having an opinion a sin? (Opinionated) Or having the disease of addiction? Or the chemical imbalance of Depression? (That one really pisses me off) Or even being a workaholic?

    There are plenty of sins out there and I have more than enough to answer for myself, but I will not let man create new sin that God never even mentions. Or let man decided that people who are sick are just lazy sinners.

    Of course according to that sheet I’m “causing dissension” just for bringing this up. I call BS. And God gave me the brain that is smart enough to question.

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  4. Natalie–I totally get what you are saying. And honestly, having an opinion isn’t a sin, but being opinionated and lumped with that usually is an uncaring attitude towards others, a critical spirit, etc…and that’s where the sin is.

    As well as the others you mentioned. Not every case of addiction and depression is genetic or physiological, many time they’re caused by choices we make.

    The list wasn’t meant to be something say “THIS IS YOUR SIN” but to say, “Examine yourself for things you might not realize are hindering your life.”

    I’m at fault here for not explaining the depth of this study, which started with much study into God’s Holiness, followed by this call to examine ourselves in light of learning and respecting God’s Holiness, followed by a call to repentance, and finally, life changing forgiveness. Does that make sense?

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