Presence is fragrant.
Sweet, alluring… Toxic, foul…
What scent do you bring?
Presence is fragrant.
Sweet, alluring… Toxic, foul…
What scent do you bring?
Lay your burdens down
Rest… Trust that you are carried.
“Steep your soul” in peace.
“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” – The Bible
Until a few years ago, I never quite understood the meaning of Grace. I mean, you hear people use it in church, and it is usually as a means of sounding holier than others… I always felt a twinge of irritation when I heard others use it.
But, as I mentioned in the previous post, the last 7 years have been very difficult years for me. Stripped to my core, I have been through some humbling times. And Grace has carried me through.
I once heard a definition that completely transformed how I felt about Grace. “Grace is God’s willingness to use His infinite resources and power to meet your every need.”
Imagine that. Imagine having access to infinite resources. How would you behave? How would you show up? What would you do differently?
I always felt uncomfortable with the idea of grace. Traditionally defined as “God’s unmerited favor.” Don’t get me wrong. I liked the “favor” part. It was the “unmerited” part I had trouble with. As a life-long achiever, I have always prided myself on working hard, going after my goals, having big dreams and barreling like a bull in a china shop (not gracefully, I am afraid!) to get them done. I didn’t want to owe anyone.
But over and over again, I have experienced radical expressions of grace… Inexplicable, unsolicited, awe-inspiring generosities sent my way.
For example, over the past year, I stopped hiding in shame over my failures and stepped out into the entrepreneurial world. I showed up as myself and received approval and acceptance from kindred I didn’t know existed. For some reason, I received unprecedented favor and access to people I had long admired. And for quite a while, this unsettled me… I kept wondering what I had done to deserve that attention or favor… Then immediately, I felt like I had to earn my keep and kept looking for ways to do so in order to be of service… Again, I didn’t want to owe anyone.
Being a giver, I was often unsure of how to respond. Service is a core ideal, so reaching out for help hardly ever occurs to me. Receiving has always been awkward and uncomfortable. When I am given something, I feel this need to give back immediately. Questions immediately swirl in my mind as I tried to figure things out. How do I repay this favor? What have I done to deserve it? How to I pay it forward? Why is this happening?
We all do this.
It’s like receiving a compliment on a beautiful outfit and immediately feeling the need to give a reciprocal compliment or trivialize the compliment we’ve been given. We want to brush off the vulnerability we feel and immediately try to do something to earn it, or prove we are worth it. So we don’t owe any one.
“One day in God’s grace is equivalent to a thousand days of striving by your own efforts” – Joseph Prince
I have lived a life propelled by grace… I am not the smartest, kindest or bravest woman by a long shot… but my life if filled with miracles, favor I can’t rationalize. I have been given a lot.
I am learning that it is not my hustling that earns me grace… I am not successful because I am good… God doesn’t bestow grace on me because I love Him, or I am good or I have earned it… Like I always say, it’s not about me. God gives me grace because God loves me. l haven’t done and can’t do anything to earn that love.
So, the next time you experience grace, no matter how outrageously generous, how about doing something different?
What if you said “thank you”? What if you paused and really received the gift that was being given? What if you smiled and receive the gift, the compliment, the grace graciously?
You don’t have to hustle for worthiness. You are worthy not because of any thing you have done but because you are loved. So, stop! Stop scrounging for approval. There are people out there who love you “as-is”. You are loved, not because of what you have done but for who you are.
As someone who is used to giving, this has been a hard lesson to learn… Grace is a two way street! Giving Grace requires receiving graciously.
Imagine that. Really accepting the love that is sent your way… really receiving it with peace, gratitude, humility, and grace… not fighting or trivializing the experience, but embracing it.
That is grace…
It has never been one of my strongest suits but I am determined to learn.
Instead of holding on to my pride and saying “no thanks” to the gifts I have been given, or the help that is being extended, I realize my need and humbly accept… And I accept, not out of embarrassment but out of awe, that I have been given such a gift. God has tapped into His infinite resources and met my need.
I am grateful.
Sometimes I forget and return to old ungracious habits.
But I am determined to cultivate grace. I want to be more and more gracious, even as grace is extended to me – that inexplicable extension of Divine power that helps me do what needs to be done.
Steven Furtick once described grace as “God breaking the rules to give you what you need.”
Boy, am I grateful for that!
Cultivating The Art of Receiving Graciously:
1. In what ways have you been a recipient of grace lately?
2. What is your usual reaction? Trivializing? Rejection? Armoring up?
3. How does pride keep you from receiving grace?
4. In what ways can you become a more gracious recipient?
5. In what ways can you extend grace to others?
6. How is your gratitude practice? Thriving? Floundering?
7. Whom can you enlist in your quest to cultivate grace, humility and gratitude?
Grace visits everyone. Take some time to reflect this week and note moments of grace in your life. Remember, the rules are being broken to give you what you need so you can do good in the world. Now, that’s something to humbly accept and be grateful for! See you next week! 🙂
Yvonne Whitelaw writes for Yvonnewhitelaw.com where she blogs about her quest to grow into her ideals in her “Live Your Ideals Project”. By sharing her Daily Haikus and lessons along the way (every Monday and Thursday), she hopes to serve and inspire a tribe of wholehearted humanitarians, visionaries and idealists like you, to “live your ideals, live your calling and change the world.”
The disease to please
arises from not trusting
you are loved “as-is”.
Dimming radiance to soothe
other Dark Dwellers
Honor your calling
Though some will not understand,
the world still needs you.
Trust in the process
Like Clay in the Potter’s hands
Your life becomes art
An Invitation to share
the musings of God!
Sometimes the truth hurts.
You fear action will hurt more.
Face it anyway
“Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me…” – John Newton
Been thinking about Grace lately…
Yes, The old hymn calls it “Amazing”.
“Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now I’m found. Was blind but now I see…”
The truth is, for a long time, I disliked that hymn.
I didn’t think I was a wretch. I didn’t think I was lost. And I definitely did not think I was blind!
Boy, was I wrong.
Funny how things change…
A decade ago, I was so sure of myself. I had my life planned out. I was going to be a doctor. I was going to make something of myself. I was going to change the world doing medical missions. I felt the hand of destiny on me. I knew I was going to be important someday. I would never have to worry about anything because my work would always be in demand.
Yep, I thought I knew it all.
Then, after my burnout experience, after I resigned halfway through my intern year of residency, after trying to do 80hr-weeks with an infant without family or friends in a new city, I began to understand.
Imagine 7 years of wretchedness – A wilderness of isolation, debt, despair, shame…
Lost… Two years of job applications and only one interview… Trying to figure what to do with your life.
Blind… Red flags… recurring patterns and yet failing to connect the dots… Serendipity yet failing to respond with gratitude… The light fading from your eyes…
Cycle back to failure… losing respect in the eyes of friends of family for not completing the designated path.
Humiliation… Face-planting after yet another attempt at moving forward.
Slammed doors. More Isolation. Scarcity. Self-pity. Alienation. Shame…
And then, the hiding begins… You disappear.
No point in showing up for that event or that reunion when everyone else is doing so well… Those you mentored have long passed you on the path you helped them find…
The walls mount around you and you wonder if there is a way out. You cry for relief only to hear your voice echoing back against the walls of your prison.
So, after struggling and struggling, you surrender.
And suddenly! Grace!
“Grace – simple elegance or refinement of movement”- Merriam-Webster Dictionary
You decide to pay attention.
Then you realize, that Grace was there all along.
Those storms did not drown you – they taught you about walking on water. The fires did not consume you – they refined you. The wilderness did not dry you up. You developed spiritual abs of steel in the boot-camp of life.
You begin to see the patterns. You begin to connect the dots of your life. Things begin to make sense.
You start chipping away at the walls, letting the light in, letting others in.
You show up as you truly are and things really begin to fall into place.
Suddenly, an already busy stay-at-home mom finds little pockets to time to write.
The ideas begin to take flight.
You receive a phone call offering you the help you have been praying for… You gain access to a world you didn’t know existed. Mentors, kindred, inklings begin to show up to help you with your long-neglected dreams. A check shows up in the nick of time..
Failures still happen, but, you have a quiet confidence that didn’t exist before. You know that Grace is making a way for you. You work hard, yes, but there is an inexplicable ease, a flow, that seems to pervade even the difficult things…
Like oil to the wheel…
And you press on, knowing that you will be fine. There is a power working on your behalf. All the resources of the universe at your fingertips because you are doing what you were born to do. You are exactly where you need to be. You have taken that courageous step…
One of my favorite definitions of Grace is God’s willingness to use his power to make all resources available to meet your needs.
Not because you have earned it, but because you are loved.
I look at my life. The pain, the triumph, the joys, the failures… It is starting to make sense… Not all of it, but the patterns are there…
My Physician burnout experience. Then my father’s death during physician strikes in Nigerian – a direct result of other physician burnouts. Physician strikes during my visit to San Diego. A Family friend jumping off a bridge to her death halfway through her intern year of residency. My training in positive psychology coaching. My training in the Daring way. My history of activism, advocacy and humanitarianism. My passion for music, writing and performance.
The dots are connecting to a calling that I am beginning to respond to – inspire a global tribe of humanitarians especially physicians, to live their ideals and thrive in their calling and change the world.
Do you see it? Do you see how the dots connect?
Maybe… Maybe not… Because it’s not really about me.
It’s about you… You, paying attention to your life. Surrendering to Grace. Facing your truth, living it and telling it. Embracing imperfection. Remembering those serendipitous moments with gratitude. Cultivating Grace by surrendering to it.
Yes, that Grace.
It’s Amazing… Do you see it?
I see it… I was blind, but now, I see!
As Thriving Idealists, you “cultivate your light” by cultivating your ideals. Take some time to reflect on your life.
1. Where are the dots, the seminal moments of your life? What recurring patterns stand out to you?
2. What areas of your life are you neglecting or unwilling to talk about? In what ways are you not showing up fully in your life?
3. What area of failure, pain or red flags have you been ignoring?
4. What truths do you need to face about your life? Who can help you do so?
5. How has Grace shown up in your life? What moments of serendipity have you not acknowledged? In what ways can you surrender to Grace?
6. What are you grateful for? If you are going through a dark period , can you find one thing to be grateful for?
7. Find an accountability partner and make a commitment to pay close attention to your life. Can you note the moments of serendipity Grace that sends your way?
You are loved. And with that love comes a willingness to meet your needs. Sure, your wants might not always be met. But your needs will be. Surrender and you will see! See you next time!
Yvonne Whitelaw writes for Yvonnewhitelaw.com where she blogs about her quest to grow into her ideals in her “Live Your Ideals Project”. By sharing her Daily Haikus and lessons along the way (every Monday and Thursday), she hopes to serve and inspire a tribe of wholehearted humanitarians like you, to “live your ideals, live your calling and change the world.”
Don’t go it alone
There is power in numbers
If you need help, ask!
Heaven Opens Up.
Yes! All things are possible…
when I surrender.
Ho ho hahaha!
Eyes locked, giggles overflow…
Ah, Contagious joy!
Grace cannot be earned
Freely given without strings
Let your heart receive…
Love rolls up His sleeves
Mends my tattered heart anew
and I’m whole again.
Don’t believe the lie.
Grass is not always greener
in your neighbor’s lawn.
Don’t believe the hype.
Grass is not always greener
in your neighbor’s lawn.
Why am I lonely?
Five Hundred friends on Facebook…
And no one to call.
When your world caves In
Look to the One who holds it…
God will make a way.
Guard your heart and time…
It is okay to say “No”
to those who drain you.