Leaving the Land of Self Protection

“But he continues to pour out more and more grace upon us. For it says, God resists you when you are proud but continually pours out grace when you are humble.” 

James 4:6 TPT

I used to believe grace was something I had to work to have for others. I know we all need grace, but I thought that having grace for others was a skill to be honed, a discipline to be developed. It turns out, my lack of grace for others is actually an indication that I pridefully believed others needed grace more than me.  

My path to this revelation came through being in conflict with a few people I am close to. These people and the situations we found ourselves in were a catalyst in driving me to the revelation that I am not as generous with grace as I had previously thought. In closer relationships, I tend to believe I know the intent behind the actions of those I know best. With the help of the Holy Spirit, I can see that this line of thinking is rooted in self protection. 

As the name suggests, Self Protection is not interested in truth, it is interested in Self. My emotions would jump in to ensure my perception of the situation put me in the right and all of the unsavory actions from the other were viewed as an attack on me. Any of my unsavory actions were given a pass as they were traced back to my intent which is only ever good in the eyes of Self Protection. Self Protection is a ruthless way to operate. It takes on a “me against the world” mentality. Fight or flight is the go-to strategy, and I become the jury and judge of all that is done to me. 

When we are in charge, we take the role of god in our own relationships. If we are god, our resources to see the situation or relationship with anything other than selfish eyes is impossible. We do not have access to the resources of Heaven or the spirit that dwells in us while in the confines of Self Protection. Grace is a scarcity in the land of Self Protection, because it was never our job to conjure it up in the first place. And when we are operating in Self Protection, we cut off the Heavenly resources that Jesus paid such a high price to put at our disposal. Grace is a gift from Jesus. In Him we have all we need, and dear reader, we NEED grace. 

Ephesians 2:8 says 

“For it is by grace you have been saved. Through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–”

In 2 Thessalonians 1:2 it says

“Our God gives you everything you need, makes you everything you’re to be.”

He offers these gifts (fruits of the spirit) to those willing to accept them. They are there because of who He is, not who we could ever be in our own power. All we need to do is leave Self and follow Jesus. Submit to His ways of being and let Self die daily. Self will protect you, but it will come at a cost that I am only now seeing is far too steep. I was looking for so many relationships to serve me and if they didn’t, I was on the defense at every turn. I had no clue for many years that this is how I was operating. I know what good behavior looks like and I know how to make my actions mirror the good morals I was brought up with. But my heart was methodically looking out for my best interests at every opportunity. Self doesn’t know how to be any other way. 

In the days and weeks and months to come I see myself crucifying old thought patterns and behaviors that only served Self. Some might die instantly and easily–others might go kicking and screaming, but I know there is newness of life being breathed in my spirit daily as I embrace a life of freedom from the land of Self Protection. Stay tuned for a deeper unpacking of how finding grace for myself (read: embracing the free gift of grace that has been waiting for me) unlocked my ability to give grace to others.

What if We Took Time to Be Us?

timetobeUs

Mamas, I have a tip for you:

Just Be You!

Everyday, I get to see about 100+ articles about this and that–usually posted on social media. I don’t read most of them because they are an opinion about another article that they read. Moms are all up in arms about ev-er-y-thing! We rush to judgment about things that do affect us, and things that don’t. And in this post-modern world where social media gives us instant access to hundreds (even thousands) of people, we feel the need to defend our position. But I’d like to pose a question:

How many times has your individual opinion swayed another on social media?

 

How many times has your individual opinion sparked a debate?


 

I still grab the bait every now and again, but for the most part I don’t put my opinion about hot-topic issues on social media. Why? Because I believe what I believe. I am who I am. Sure that is subject to change, but guess who I confer with about that?

Those that live in my actual real life, that’s who!

(That was said in my best Junie B. Jones voice, and if you don’t know who that is then forgive me as I am knee-deep in her book series with my six-year old.)

I look to God and to those I have a trusted rapport with to make a change.

I have spent many years doing work to root myself in my eternal identity. My hope is found in Christ and who HE says I am. If I pray about a topic, do my research (real research, not a flood of opinion articles), and I have peace about a parenting method, schooling method, or heck the type of sunscreen I put on my kids, then I am okay with that. And I am okay with your choices too. I am not your judge, nor have I been called by God to declare to you what is okay for you to do as a mom. I am just not. If you are in my live circle of people and I feel an open door to have a respectful discussion about something, I’ll take it with careful consideration. We spend far too much time looking sideways at the other moms in our lives (both live and in social media circles) and tallying their wins and their losses and comparing them to our own. And I will be the first to admit I was a high offender of this practice. I was super insecure as a new mom. I did NOT want to mess this up, and if you and I were doing things differently, I calculated the wins and losses at night to make sure my kid was doing well (in comparison). I hate to think of the time I wasted worrying about how I stacked up.

To keep this from sounding like a rant in and of itself, I simply want to invite you to search out your true identity in Christ and spend more energy allowing Him to love on you. When you become aware of the love He has for you, most of the need to be right and the need to be heard on the interwebs fades a bit. If you have peace with your decision, be at peace. Don’t go trading it in on some typed-up debate between someone you haven’t seen in 12 years. Let them have their opinion. Pray for them and practice grace.

Here is my rule of thumb (and I am not perfect so I ignore this from time to time):

  1. If it is your strong opinion or the article really resinated with you, that’s great share.
    • Do your best to stay away from harsh debating. As you type back and forth are you staying kind? It is hard to read a person’s inflection in type so keep your emotions in check so you don’t get defensive.
  2. If someone else posts something that is the opposite of how you believe.
    • Just let it go. If they are a close (real-life) friend and you feel truly impressed to intervene in that area, do so, but proceed with caution. Otherwise, scroll on by.

We are all flawed, we are all getting it wrong in some area, and we are all a work in progress. We as moms love our kids more than we understand and it can make us crazy sometimes. I want to be known for being loving and encouraging more than I want to be known for my strong opinions and my debating skills. Sadly, I think I have a lot of work to do, but that’s okay, don’t we all!

The best news of all is that God’s love is not even a little bit swayed by my stink or my slightly-dressed up stink. It’s all stink compared to Him, but it was never a factor in His decision to love us. He loves us because of who He is. Your “good mom points” don’t mean squat when you get to the Pearly Gates. You get to enter Heaven by the amazing grace of Jesus Christ alone. That is what matters and that is what we need to be obsessed about. Our Savior and what HE has to say about ____________.

So my challenge today is to spend time soaking in your identity before you engage in online debate. Be love and be you, before you try to be right. When we take up the call to be the taste of Christ, too many of us feel the need to be that bitter spray you buy for animals to keep them from chewing on stuff. And people walk away with that scrunched-up look on their face that indicates we left a bad taste in their mouth. But if we choose to be love, we can be a cool drink on a hot day.

This is the kind of love we are talking about–not that we once upon a time loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as a sacrifice to clean away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God.

1 John 4:10 (MSG)