Grace and Acceptance: Antidote to New Years Delusions

New Years – a time of hope, and promise.

Most hope that New Year will be like a reset button for life.  Some will even go so far as to make themselves promises.  We mislabel them “resolutions”.  They’d often be better labelled “New Years Delusions”.

One thing that always strikes me is that we either make these etherial statements which are high on hope but short on substance like, “Let’s move onward and upward to the next level, and live your purpose!” Or we make unattainable resolutions that are more like political promises – they are always broken.

There are so many areas of my life that are flawed.  I have resolved to rectify and repair them, but they have been impossible to fix, and trying to fix them gets so frustrating.  I’ve also tried the etherial “Onward and Upward” statements, which gave me a warm glow for a few seconds before they evaporate.  So I have been stuck in my rut, asking myself why it is so hard to move forward in life.

Then while I was having a shower at 2:30 yesterday morning I came to a realisation.  I am frustrated because I fight against what I can not control.

Ok, so then, when can I do about this?  My options are limited.  I can keep fighting what I obviously can’t beat.  Or I accept that I am a complete screw up in many areas of my life and just move forward anyway.

I came away thinking, “Gee, that made sense.  Why haven’t I been doing this before.”

And it struck me that I’ve encountered this theory a bazillion times before.  Acceptance of  weaknesses as integral to life change is everywhere – from the first step of Alcoholics Anonymous, all the way through Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, and even a little bit of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.

The Bible too.  2 Corinthians 12: “Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (v8-10)

I did a word study on this once before.  The image used is of a broken brick wall, crumbling, decayed, with missing bricks and cracking mortar.   And when God says, “My power is made perfect in weakness”, the image is of God filling in all the missing parts with his power, leaving a wall that isn’t new, but is renewed.  The best analogy is that of urban renewal.  Take an old building, fix the walls and fittings, and you have an old building restored to its former glory.  God’s power renews us, and restores that which was broken.  We don’t become a different person, we remain the same person that God made us to be but with God filling in the gaps.

In my life thus far, instead of letting God in to fill the gaps in my wall, my life, I’m stressing and striving trying to fix it all myself.  And the result of all this stress is simply burnout.  So rather than just accepting that I am broken, I have tried to fix everything myself and in doing so, made myself even more broken.

I need to accept that I am ill-tempered, impetuous and insecure.  I need to lean on God’s grace.  God himself said that it’s sufficient, so even though my problems seem insurmountable to me, I’m sure God can handle it.

So the purpose of this little essay is certainly not to tell you what to do or how to do it.  I’m not going to feed you some ethereal, saccharine garbage about how you can dream a dream, live your destiny, or go to a higher level.

I do want to say that there are parts of all of us that are broken, and are very difficult to fix.  You don’t have to do it all yourself.  Sometimes you have to accept that there are some things beyond your control.  Rely on God’s grace to restore and renew.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

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