We are normally taught that grace is something we only receive through a winning ticket in the lottery of divine dispensation. That it is unrelated to who we are or what we do. If we get lucky, we come up smelling of roses. If we don’t, we prick our thumbs on the thorns of life and stumble through the briars.
“You were saved by faith in God, who treats us much better than we deserve. This is God’s gift to you, and not anything you have done on your own. It isn’t something you have earned, so there is nothing you can brag about.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)
Grace is a quality of ease and peace in the midst of suffering.
In this post I’d like to suggest that grace—or perhaps that there’s a version of grace—which brings ease amid suffering that we are entirely able to control.
When you consciously and consistently create the preconditions for grace, grace descends.
When you need to make deep changes—particularly as you work your way down through the layers of the unconscious towards your core wounds and survival programming—to say that change is unsettling is a massive understatement.
Not only does your external life undergo huge shifts but also your whole understanding of who you are alters. At times you may not even have the slightest idea who you are.
Yet the issues come at you faster and faster, with ever smaller breaks in between to rest and recalibrate. Those tools are whirring at high speed like a chainsaw juggler as you deal with all of this. The process is physically, mentally and emotionally battering.
Our issues never exist in isolation, either. They’re more like dominoes. Fix one issue and other related negative beliefs, behaviours and coping mechanisms are flushed to the surface. It’s very easy to descend into ‘evolution overwhelm’—yet there is no big red button to stop the self-improvement process.
That’s when you most need grace.
Is grace a tool? Yes, because you can consciously wield it just like any of the other tools in this series. Grace doesn’t appear randomly. Grace has no option but to appear when you satisfy its preconditions.
Preconditions for grace
Some of them I’ve already covered: responsibility for all that happens in your life. Faith that you are on track, no matter what happens. The courage to step through your worst fears without knowing where it leads. Knowing when to surrender and let the process of personal evolution take you in its flow.
When you align with your own change process, you align with Christ. “Then, because you belong to Christ Jesus, God will bless you with peace that no one can completely understand. And this peace will control the way you think and feel.” (Philippians 4:7)
Grace comes when you fully accept that you need to change and everything else is secondary. When you consciously and consistently create the preconditions for grace, grace descends.
A few years ago I was in a car crash. At the exact moment of impact, I could see the front of my car hitting the bumper of the car ahead. I could feel the van behind me crunching into the boot. My young son was in the back seat of the car. It was every parent’s nightmare, unfolding before me in Wachowski brothers-style slow motion.
Yet I was completely at peace with the world. I knew with total certainty that this experience was a necessary part of my journey (the reason later emerged) and that everyone and everything was OK. And so it proved. Grace had descended.
John 16:33 reads: “I have told you this, so that you might have peace in your hearts because of me. While you are in the world, you will have to suffer. But cheer up! I have defeated the world.” I had to suffer going through the messy process of the accident and its aftermath. Yet because I stopped resisting, it was graceful instead of painful.
When you have mastered grace, you’re as ready as you’ll ever be for the most challenging moments personal growth can throw at you. May these tools help your journey be as graceful as possible.