A Note From Jasmine: This blog post was written by my dear friend, Grace Lichti. My friendship with Grace is a newer one- and it has been so wonderful to get to know her better! She is perfectly lovely and inspiring, and she says so many things that I can identify with. Also, she is kind and gentle, has the best blonde curls, and sings like an angel. I am challenged by her desire to always walk with God and maintain a deep relationship with Him. The best news is this is only the first of two posts that Grace is allowing me to share here. So someday, there will be another post by Grace!
This is a post by Grace, about grace. How fitting is that? We hope that it reminds you of the beauty of God’s grace.
I love that word.
It is my name. (Is it conceited to love your own name? I think not. It is a gift after all, given to me by my parents, and it is okay to love your gifts.)
But there is a much bigger, better reason I love that word.
When you hear that word, what do you think of? I think of beauty. But not just any beauty. Flowing, graceful beauty. Like a horse, galloping, with neck arched and mane and tail streaming. Like a lovely woman, whose movements are smooth and beautiful. Like a pretty, flowing garment. Like an eagle soaring. Beauty. Loveliness. Grace.
The word gracious also comes to my mind in association with that word. “A gracious woman retaineth honour,” the Bible says. A woman who always says the right things at the right time, but more than that, who is kind and caring, who makes every situation and person feel just right, who doesn’t belittle or criticize people but instead makes them feel special and important, and who replies to unkind words or actions with love and sweetness. A gracious woman would also respond to unpleasant situations that are out of her control graciously and with grace, not growing bitter, not blaming anyone, but just humbly and cheerfully accepting what God gives her.
Loveliness. Kindness. Beauty. Grace.
All my life I have wanted to be both gracious and graceful. Probably because that is basically what my name means, and I want to live up to my name. Probably too, because I am a woman, and I think every woman, deep down inside, wants or has at some point wanted to be beautiful.
Unfortunately, as I continue to live my life and grow older, I am noticing more and more how I am not gracious and graceful. In fact, I should probably be in the dictionary as the definition of awkward. My walk and movements are clumsy and awkward and I have a hard time making my hands behave. Sometimes someone shows me how to do something and it looks fast and easy, but when I try to do it my fingers suddenly all turn into thumbs and I forget how to use them. But even more awkward than my movements is my conversation. When meeting someone new for instance, the right thing to say just leaves my mind. But even when I’m with people that aren’t new, people I should be comfortable with, I just can’t say the right things. I forget things I want to say, and if I remember them, they don’t come out right at all or I am too shy to say them or I do say them and they sound stupid. And then there are the moments when I can’t think of anything to say, period. And the silence grows really long, and I am sure the other person will never want to be with me ever again because I am so awkward and boring. And then, when it is over, I just want to crawl into a hole and cry because I am so frustrated with myself! I like people and I want them to want to be with me, and I want to be comfortable to be with, not awkward.
Even more than awkward, I am unbeautiful. In fact, I am downright ugly! I am speaking specifically of what is inside me, what I don’t show to others, and sometimes what I do show to others. The dirtiness, the anger, the bitterness, the doubt, the laziness and apathy in spiritual things, the resentment, the pride, the unkindness, the sin that defeats me over and over, the things I carefully cover so no one sees them.
And remember the “responding to unpleasant situations graciously” part a few paragraphs above? Let’s just say that if progress in that area were measured in grades, I wouldn’t be starting kindergarten for years yet.
Yes, graciousness and gracefulness still elude me.
But, thank God, grace has another meaning to me!
A far greater and more important one.
It’s what God gives to me freely and unconditionally. And it is truly amazing! Words can’t describe it! If you are around me a lot, you will probably hear me sing Amazing Grace more times than you would wish. It is one of my favourite songs, not because of who I am, but because of Who He is. And His grace truly is amazing.
Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see.
’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.
Through many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.
My chains are gone, I’ve been set free,
My God, my Saviour, has ransomed me,
And like a flood His mercy reigns,
Unending love, amazing grace.
The Lord has promised good to me,
His Word my hope secures;
He will my Shield and Portion be,
As long as life endures.
There is nothing more amazing. When I think of my ugliness inside, all my blackness and sin, all the things people don’t see (and even all the things they do see), my wretchedness as the song says, and then think how He came and suffered incredible anguish…..for me! He took all my guilt and shame on Himself. He experienced it for me, when it was I who committed the sin. And he did it for me, who is so unlovable! And then He gives me what I don’t deserve: His presence, His strength, His love, His blessings, and finally, His home.
Yes, all of my life I have wanted to be graceful and beautiful, physically, and in the intangible areas you can’t see. And I have come to know I am not. Beauty and grace evade me.
But my Saviour! He is beautiful.
King of creation,
Son of God and Son of man!
Truly I’d love Thee,
Truly I’d serve Thee,
Light of my soul, my Joy, my Crown.
Fair are the meadows,
Fair are the woodlands,
Robed in flowers of blooming spring;
Jesus is fairer,
Jesus is purer;
He makes our sorrowing spirit sing.
Fair is the sunshine,
Fair is the moonlight,
Bright the sparkling stars on high;
Jesus shines brighter,
Jesus shines purer,
Than all the angels in the sky.
Nothing is as beautiful as Jesus!
And you know what? Because of Him, I can be beautiful too. He loves me, and bought me, and covers me with His blood so that to Him I look pure and clean and white. And He gives me Himself and His grace and His beauty. Isaiah 61:3 says, “To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.”
He gives me beauty for my ashes.
Notice the ending though: that He might be glorified. It’s not about us. He GIVES us all these things! He deserves our glory and our praise.
1 Peter 3:3,4 has captured my attention ever since I memorized the book of 1 Peter with a dear friend (who is, by the way, a shining example of these verses) several years ago:
“Whose adorning (speaking specifically to women) let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.”
THAT is the kind of woman I long to be.
I specifically notice the phrase “which is in the sight of God of great price.” A meek and quiet spirit in a woman is extremely precious to Him.
You’ve probably heard that meekness is not weakness or some similar definition. Rather, meekness is controlling our passions (“strength under control”, like a trained horse who technically could kill his rider but instead chooses to obey him) and bringing ourselves under the lordship of Christ. Jesus describes himself as meek and lowly of heart.
So being meek is being like Christ.
And quietness. Stillness. Calm. That is what our spirits are to be like. No matter what is going on around us, no matter how hectic or scary or impossible the days ahead may seem….
On my own I cannot do it though! Meekness and quietness in my spirit is utterly beyond my reach. God needs to give it to me, enable me, make me strong enough.
If I am at all the woman He wants me to be, if I have any meekness, and quietness, it is because of the grace He gives me.
That is why I love my name. Not because it describes me, but because it reminds me of the grace that is so much better than me! God’s unbelievable, amazing grace. Grace that will never, ever let me go.
When I feel ugly and awkward and plain, He is beautiful, and He is enough.