When life is sweet, say thank you and celebrate. And when life is bitter, say thank you and grow.

When life is sweet, say thank you and celebrate. And when life is bitter, say thank you and grow. Shauna Niequist, Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace, and Learning the Hard Way

I’ve heard the word grace nearly my entire lifetime.

“Let’s say grace.” “It’s okay to give yourself grace.” “Jesus coming to us is a gift of extravagant grace.” “You really should give grace to so and so.”

I’ve heard the word. I’ve given the gift and received the gift and even still, I’ve barely grasped the fullness of it all. And yet it’s from His fullness that we have all received grace upon grace. {John 1:16}

Two years ago, I realized that I can be pretty quick to extend grace to those around me but struggled to give myself the gift of grace, the time to process and work through, to try and fail and get back up again. After a year spent working on giving myself the grace I so easily gave others, I found myself in a place where the tables turned and I was suddenly struggling to extend grace to a dear friend.

It’s funny — except not really — how there is always more to learn and always another opportunity to grow. Just as soon as you think it’s all going well and you’ve come so far, you’ll be given an opportunity to practice what you’re preaching and live out what you’re learning.

It wasn’t fair and she didn’t deserve it, but since when is grace “fair” or what we “deserve”? In the same way that forgiveness is often not a one-time thing, time and again I was beaten and bruised by words and actions and that one word kept coming to mind: grace. grace. grace.

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Give a little and then oops, look how John 1:16 says to give more. We have received buckets of grace and if we were ever lacking, the clouds would open and grace would rain down. Grace upon grace upon grace upon never-ending grace.

In the sweet and in the bitter, we are to give grace and also love and truth and kindness. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes grace looks like walking away without causing a scene or getting the heck out of dodge when a situation becomes dangerous. But most of the time? Grace looks like showing up and sticking it out, speaking kind words and praying for the one(s) who has hurt you because hurt people hurt people. Grace looks like believing the best about one another.

Community really is at its best when it embraces both grace and truth. – Pete Wilson

We don’t have to do it perfectly. We don’t have to have it all figured out. We can give ourselves grace as we give others grace and somehow He works it all together for His glory and our good. I have to believe that.

Time has passed and looking back now, I can see that the hardest choice was the best choice. With all the grace I have been given, the least I could do was offer grace in return.

Grace isn’t about having a second chance; grace is having so many chances that you could use them through all eternity and never come up empty. It’s when you finally realize that the other shoe isn’t going to drop, ever. Grace is when you finally stop keeping score and when you realize that God never was. – Shauna Niequist, Bittersweet

Grace upon grace. Opportunity after opportunity. I’m learning – slowly but surely. To be totally honest though, recently I’ve been failing. I’m learning, and still failing, and then learning through the failures. So I wrote this post for you… but I also wrote it for me.

Learn with me? Grace upon grace.

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