grace changes everything

3 Ways to Practice Rhythms of Grace in Daily Life

Does your office look like mine lately? So scary even the dog’s looking at you funny?

The last few months have been the “final stages” of a 2-year project. Let’s just say things around here have been “happily creative.” We’re so close to the finish line I can taste it.

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Find your 2021 Word of the Year

Are you closing the chapter named “2020” with a happy sigh of relief too? The God of All Grace knew what this past year held. And He’s deeply invested in where you’re going next. So as we turn the page to a new year, let’s take a moment to ask…

Who is God inviting me to be in 2021?

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3 ways to deal with challenging relationships

3 ways to deal with challenging relationships

Who’s that person in your life that’s tough to deal with? You know, the one you don’t get along with very well? That one person who rubs you the wrong way?

We all have a few of these people cross our paths now and then. So, what do we do with them? If God called us to “love one another,” how do we live that out in real life with the people that are the hardest to love?

Here’s a quick story and 3 tips that may help as you deal with those challenging relationships.

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why we are so afraid of change

why we are so afraid of change

I met this girl once. She was severely depressed and had been for about 7 years. She’d lived in this story for so long that she couldn’t drum up energy or “want to” to do anything anymore – laundry, dishes, straightening the house, cleaning out clutter, even getting out of bed some days.

A variety of meds hadn’t helped. Changing her routine hadn’t helped. Counselors hadn’t helped. Getting a job hadn’t helped. She was flat-out STUCK!

When God crossed her path with mine, He whispered to me that grace COULD help! She and I chatted several times about how grace changes everything, and while she loved the hope I talked about, she was very skeptical. I understood why! She had tried so. many. things. And none had helped.

God prompted me to offer to help her dig out of the blech, and I was excited about giving her further hope and showing her how grace could change everything in her life. But, she said no.

I’ve often pondered why she refused. Maybe it was because she wasn’t truly desperate enough. Maybe it was because she was afraid of trying one more thing that might not work. Maybe it was because some other story kept her from accepting help. Or maybe, deep down, she was afraid of change.

Change Seems Scary

For most of us, change is scary. New homes, new jobs, new churches, new relationships – they’re all tinged with a certain amount of fear and uncertainty. We get used to our lives, and we’re comfortable here. That may sound crazy if you have a life  you don’t love or things that annoy and frustrate you. But the truth is, we crave familiar and cling to what we know and what we’re used to.

cheery girl with journal

So while most change seems scary, if we’re honest, the change that scares us most is change WITHIN us.

Why IS that?

I’ve come to believe inside change scares us the most because we fear that if we had to change, then something must’ve been wrong with us before. We were somehow messed up or broken or needed fixing, so we HAD to change. And that just doesn’t feel good. Who wants to believe they’re screwed up, much less have to carry around the guilt or the labels?

 Changing the Change Story

But what if all that guilt and being broken and “change is scary” is just another false story?

What if the truth is that we are NOT broken, wrong, or needing to be fixed?
(God tells us, as believers, that we’re not.)

What if change is simply a way to move toward MORE of something good?

What if the changes we make aren’t telling us something about our identity
so much as they’re helping us get what we want?

And what if we could reframe the old story into something
that serves us instead of scares us?

I think with a little story revision in our heads, we can turn change into a lovely thing in our lives. Something we WANT to have around. Something we begin to enjoy. Something we see as growth and healing and happiness. Something that lets us pursue more of what we want. Something that brings us MORE life!

That’s a story we’d be happier to live most any day, I bet.

change is good - gracethread Pin

Posted by Janna Wright in Discovering My True Identity, grace changes everything, 0 comments
should you give up lent for lent?

should you give up lent for lent?

I never heard much about Lent as a kid. It wasn’t something my church taught or my parents modeled. It was more something I heard snatches of now and then when random people said things like, “Chocolate? No, I gave that up for Lent.” Now and then I wondered if it was something I should be doing, but that thought usually drifted away.

This year we scheduled a Grace Gathering for Wednesday, February 10. I wouldn’t have thought anything of it except in a conversation with a young mom, she told me she probably couldn’t come to GG because Lent started that day. For her, adding one more thing was just too much for an already-intense day.

What’s Up With Lent?

It got me to thinking, “What’s up with this Lent thing?” I thought hard about it on my own and pondered it in our staff meetings together and became curioser and curioser until we decided to do something unusual. We would take an informal survey asking people what Lent means and why they participate (or don’t).  Maybe that would help us decipher this Lent thing some more. Here are a few of the things we heard:

lent survey-gracethreadHearing this made the whole Lent thing whisper “performance” to me. Okay, so I don’t believe that every person who gives up something for Lent thinks that. But as I heard the responses of these random people, it struck me that a lot of the motivation seems to come from the “It’s what good Christians do” or “I want to be a better Christian” place. That’s a recipe for a chocolate cake frosted with creamy guilt if I ever saw one!

A Real-Life Lent Story

In the middle of all of this, a friend told me her story:

spring flowersI grew up in a Catholic church, so Lent was something that was taught to me and something that I was expected to do each year leading up to Easter. In my mind it’s what all the “godly” people did, so if I didn’t participate, I wasn’t a very good Christian. I viewed Lent as a time to prove to God and to others what a great Christian I was and a time to show how much I was willing to sacrifice for Christ.

We eventually switched churches, and I grew and matured in my faith. Each year when Lent rolled around, though, I still felt this obligation to participate. And I found myself feeling very guilty if I didn’t follow through with it.

The guilt finally made me realize something wasn’t right. I shouldn’t feel guilty for not giving up something good for God. Good works don’t determine how much God loves me. Nothing I can do can make Him love me any more or any less. Now if that’s not freeing, I don’t know what is! Since coming to this realization, I’ve decided not to participate in Lent anymore, and do you know what the best part is? No more feeling guilty!

The Lent Conclusion

I guess what all of the surveying and stories prove is that Lent is really no different than anything else in the Christian life – it all comes down to heart motivation. Sure there are people who find Lent helpful. Sure there may be times when it’s a good thing. But there are other places where Lent is just a recipe for “do this to be godly” or an attempt to work our way further into God’s favor.

Like my friend said at the end of her story, “I’m not going to sit here and tell you whether you should participate in Lent or not.” But maybe hearing these stories will at least help us process our own Lent thoughts and discover whether Lent is serving us or guilting us. If it’s the latter, we probably better give up Lent for Lent!

Posted by Janna Wright in grace changes everything, 0 comments