God isn’t mad at you.
This is hard for me to remember. As a grudge-holder myself, it is hard to grasp this whole “grace” thing. Yet, I am met with the reality every time I do, say, or think the wrong thing — there is grace available to me through Jesus. Carrying this reality with me daily with joy means that I get the opportunity to extend grace and space to others. Loving others well requires both of these things.
As Biola students, we are well-versed in defining biblical terms, which means you probably know what grace means. The definition that comes to mind for me is a gift of unmerited favor. This is essential vocabulary when it comes to looking at the New Testament and the life and ministry of Jesus.
When it comes to space, the definition isn’t exactly biblical in nature of the word but the reality of it is present in the way Jesus led. Space: a continuous area or expanse which is free, available, or unoccupied. In the expanse of our complexities, Jesus, our friend, offers space for us. He has unlimited time for us, as he is always awaiting with delight to be with us. He has a complete understanding of who we are, knowing our past, present and future. When we inevitably mess up, he isn’t counting it against us. He uses it as an invitation for connection with him.
Imagine if we offered ourselves to each other in this way.
When somebody you dislike (or as the Bible says, your enemy) gets some bad news or gets called out for doing something problematic, you are the first to offer them grace and space. You consider their background, their limitations, and them as a whole. You don’t jump to conclusions but come to the conversation with trust filling the gaps.
We cannot offer somebody something we do not possess ourselves. So, we must first offer grace and space to ourselves. For me, this looks like being kind to myself when I mess up. It is easy for me to spiral into judgment and criticism toward myself. When I am kinder and less judgemental of myself, I find it much easier to treat others the same way.
Here at GRIT, we are doing our best to offer these things to ourselves and to each other. Although the only place where we experience the depth of grace and space is in communion with the Father, even our imperfect attempts are glorifying Him.
This is not something that we can do by our will, by trying to be nicer (I have been there). It is something that must be formed within us by proximity to Jesus. As we spend more and more time with Him, we grow to look more like Him. The process of growing in our ability to offer grace and space to others requires us to give these things to ourselves as well.
Through our podcast that is launching this week (yay), we hope to embody grace and space (along with all of our other digital content) As my counselor once said, “Be curious, not furious!” This is our heart when it comes to the podcast. We are so excited to dive deeper into hard questions while growing to be more compassionate and patient.
This vision of grace and space has been so compelling to our staff, and we hope that you will find so as well.