This past year God used circomstances in my life to teach me a lesson I didn’t even think I needed to learn. Over the last two years God has worked such miracles in my life and heart and healed me from pain I spent my entire young adult life running from. My mother’s abandonment, my father’s alcoholism and suicide, my heartbreak from a relationship with a man I thought I would marry, my self-centeredness, control and pride. The list could go on. He has healed and He has blessed, and continues to do so. Yet this was only the beginning.

This August my grandmother passed away. She was the closest thing to a mother I knew. She was in the hospital when I called on a Wednesday to check on her and was informed she had passed that Sunday. They had lost track of her for 3 days and didn’t even inform me. She died alone and then she was forgotten. This is one of my greatest fears. Her death also brought up unresolved emotions towards my ex-boyfriend who had been the last person to be with me to see my grandmother while she was alive. I was filled with such pain and anger. I was now battling with double heartbreak all over again. I was devastated.

I went into work a few days later to find out that my job along with 20 others had been eliminated, and as if that was not enough, conflict with my roommate, a sister from the church, lead to both of us having to break our lease and move within two months time. And this was just the beginning. It seemed as though I was waking up every day to a new challenge. August was not my month.

It is difficult for me to live life deliberately when I’m in pain, afraid or feeling hopeless. When life’s circumstances seem to topple me over, it can immobilize me. There is so much in my heart that I don’t even know how to work through it. I want others to work it through for me. When they don’t I get angry and frustrated.

Eph4:32 “Be kind and loving to each other, and forgive each other just as God forgave you in Christ.”

I need to learn how to suffer graciously. I realize God has been so gracious to me and He is asking me to give the same grace he has given me.

1Cor16:13 “Be alert. Continue strong in the faith. Have courage, and be strong.

When I look at things honestly I see a different perspective. I can imagine Jesus saying, “You will never be asked to match the grace and mercy I extended to you when you crucified me.”

He wants me to be wholehearted about the hard parts. When I’m uncomfortable, scared or insecure. He doesn’t ask us to be perfect in always extending grace. He just wants us to keep trying, to keep fighting.

I got to the point where I didn’t even want to go to church anymore. Here was this church family who took me in all those years ago when I became a Christian and here I was critical, bitter, and sitting in judgment. I was angry at the church. But this is the church Jesus died for and I wasn’t having His heart towards it.

1Peter2:17 “Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers,”

If I focus on how the church or disciples fall short of my expectations I get lost in my own hurt and disappointment. I run out of grace and mercy quickly. I turn away from God and turn to my accomplishments and achievements for my self-worth.

I had a lot to learn about Grace and Mercy. Mercyis the wrath I deserve but do not get. Grace is the Love I do not deserve but do get.

God used my pain to teach me a lesson I didn’t even think I needed to learn. The lesson was and continues to be to extend grace to other people, to love people better. His ways are grace and love, while my ways are judgmental and selfish.

The more aware I become of how God treats me in my failures and pride, the unfairness of his grace, the more it produces grace in me for others. It restores my wholeheartedness. And when it doesn’t I wrestle with it, until it does! I have to fight to forgive, to be wholehearted and to be merciful despite circumstances.

1Cor15:19 “If our hope in Christ is for this life only, we should be pitied more than anyone else in the world.”

Grace is the greatest motivator. Even when you love God and believe in his promises, healing takes time. It takes wading through an ocean of tears; it takes prayers and decisions to stop asking for answers, and start asking for perspective. I need so much more perspective to extend grace to my brothers and sisters in Christ, to love well. But I have seen how God has used it when I have chosen obedience and fought to forgive. As I have shared my battles with my friends in the world, those I’m sharing Christ with, I’ve watched them see God in my life more. I’ve watched others become Christians.

Pv21:21 “Whoever pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor.”

In October, God not only used me to help a friend who literally called me and said, “ My grandmother just died, I broke up with my boyfriend, I started a new job, moved and am feeling hurt by the Church.” Who would have thought I would now 2 months later, be in a place to help her. That same month, I also saw that ex-boyfriend at a wedding, and was able to extend nothing but compassion and love for him as my brother. All the anger and bitterness was gone.

I am so grateful for how God continually calls me back to this. Hard times will come but God’s goal is not my happiness but my holiness. God is forming Christ in me, situation by situation. And every situation God puts me in holds more opportunity than first meets the eye.

I’m wholehearted when I remember that, “He is faithful when I am not. He is constant when I am not and He is everything when I am nothing. Yet He says that I am His.”