Disclaimer

I am about a week and a half into this blogging journey and I want you to know how scary this is for me. On a cold, Friday afternoon, after two extra cups of coffee, I sat on my new, big, red couch (more on this later) feeling really brave and decided to create my blog. So I did. It took me until Monday to work up the courage to write my first post. Once I had written it, it took me a couple of more hours to work up the courage to hit the Publish button. When I did hit Publish I closed my eyes and winced as if someone were yanking a band aid off of the most sensitive part of my body. (Fyi…the Publish button is bullying me around a bit. It taunts me every time I sit down to write. Staring at me from the right hand side of the screen as if daring me to touch it. You can pray for me. In fact, please do, I have no idea what I am doing technically speaking.)

My second day of blogging I figured out how to link my blog to my Facebook page. It took me several more days to actually link it and share a post there. To me that was scarier than hitting the Publish button. I had a mild panic attack afterwards. My hands were shaking, my breathing became irregular, my legs felt rubbery and I got nauseous. I felt like I had just invited the whole world (well 124 of them, Facebook friends) into my bedroom to go through my underwear drawer or worse to see me naked. In fact, my heart is racing this very minute just thinking about it again. I have issues with naked.

All that said, it is becoming more and more apparent that I struggle with letting people in. With letting them see the real me. To allow them to know me, all of me – the good, the bad and the ugly. So that’s part of what this space is about. Sharing myself, an image bearer of God, and my journey with others. Something of a personal travel journal.

For those of you who know and love me and might be concerned that I am probably working out some issues I am wrestling with right here on my blog, in public, let me just say upfront, you are probably exactly right! I think that if I am wrestling then others are too. Also, you know how frugal I am, this is free and I can do it from home. Counseling is expensive and I have to get dressed and go out for it.

I will leave you with a quote by Theodore Roosevelt that the Lord used to encourage me during my panic attack:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”

Beginning

Allow me to introduce myself, I am Kim – wife; mother of three wonderful girls (in spite of me); a former overachiever, perfectionist, and a self-sufficient rule follower with a hyper-sense of responsibility for absolutely everything.   I am a woman who has spent most of her life trying to make herself acceptable to everyone, including the only One who matters.  The One who had already accepted me completely.

Where to start?  How do you begin when you are really still in the middle?  When you want to tell your story, but you are really not quite sure where you are in it?  When you tell a story, aren’t you supposed to know how it ends first?

I guess I will begin in the middle because I really didn’t have a story to tell until I realized I was coming apart, unglued, UNRAVELED.  Everything I had tried to knit together in order to cover mySELF (my shame, embarrassment, fear, unworthiness, insecurity) began to come apart exposing all the ugly, naked truth about me.  The sad part was that for quite a while I kept trying to hold it all together.  I figured if I just worked harder at it I could keep myself covered.  It was exhausting and ridiculous! 

Actually, looking back, I think it bordered on insane, which is how I got here.  My life motto had become, “Suck it up and keep moving.”  No matter how bad things got, I just painted on a smile, fixed my hair and kept going.  That is until the One who loves me without limits and without conditions said, “Enough!”  It may as well have been a voice from heaven that sent me spiraling.  I am not entirely sure exactly what triggered “the episode” (I vaguely remember it had something to do with cupcakes and budgets), but whatever it was landed me in bed for days, crying uncontrollably, medicated and wondering if my mind was ever going to function properly again. 

The truth was my mind was probably functioning more properly at that moment than it had in a long time.  I had managed to completely overload all of my circuits and it had the good sense to shut itself off.  I could barely put two words together, which is actually a good thing when the last thing you should be doing is talking.

We rarely recognize life changing moments as they happen.  Often we need to see them from a different perspective, after time has passed (and after sanity has returned) to appreciate them for what they are.  Otherwise, how could I call those few days some of the most important in my life?  Earth shattering and life altering at the same time.  Terrifying and oddly peaceful.  Ugly and beautiful all at once.  Sometimes it takes a powerful force to cause something to change direction.  I am embarrassed to say I didn’t take the subtle hints My Father had been giving me for quite some time.   God in all of His power had to intervene to get this freight train to change course.  This is what I like to refer to as the beginning of “The Great Unraveling.”  More on this later.

It’s amazing what God can do with dust, isn’t?  He can take it and make something profoundly beautiful out of it.  It’s called grace.  I’ve been a believer since I was about eight years old when I committed my life to Christ, but somewhere along the way I completely missed grace.  And that’s why I am here in this space, unraveling the mysteries of His grace that has so unraveled me.

Grace, the Gift

Ephesians 2:4-10

4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
A gift. By definition a gift is not something that is earned. If it was earned it would be called compensation or a reward. A gift is given at the unction of the giver. For some reason within the giver himself.

So what prompted God to give grace? What motivated God to give the gift? God was completely motivated by His own mercy and His own love for us. There was no “benefit” for God. There was no trade-off. He simply wanted us to be alive with Christ. He wanted to show us the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness.

So why is it so hard to receive a gift? Even in human relationships when someone gives me a gift it is very difficult to receive without somehow feeling the need to reciprocate with a gift of my own. Isn’t this what we often do at Christmas? Give gifts because other people have given gifts to us. Or worse, don’t we sometimes give in order to get from others?

To receive from God seems so overwhelming to me because I know the stuff of which I am made, apart from Christ. I know what I am capable of and what I have done. I know the things I think and don’t say out loud. I am not worthy. But that’s what makes the gift so incredible…it was given when I was dead in my sin, before I ever even considered not being in sin. It wasn’t given because I somehow earned it. I hadn’t done enough good things to make me worthy of the gift. God gave the gift because of who He is, not because of who I am. And yet because of what He did I now have worth. I now have value. I am no longer dead, I am alive. I didn’t earn it, I received it.

Receiving it…ahhh…that’s the hard part, isn’t it? At least it is for me. When I received the gift of grace I immediately felt that I had a debt to repay (which I guess begs the question, did I really receive it?) and set out to work as hard as I could and to work as perfectly as I could to pay Jesus back for His sacrifice. Something was definitely wrong with that picture! The sad part is that it took me about 36 years, a lifetime of difficult relationships and a host of digestive disorders to realize I had missed a very crucial truth of the gospel…IT IS A GIFT. Period. End of story. You either receive it or you don’t.

This truth is what has brought me to this place. I had knit together a version of myself that did not function well. But slowly, surely, faithfully, relentlessly, patiently God has been unraveling me with His love. Unraveling me with the truth of His grace. It is a gift.