I've been enjoying the newest Brian Doerksen worship CD Level Ground (another Christmas gift - I love getting music for Christmas), and one of his songs is called Enter the Rest of God, and it contains a line which says, "Live the unforced rhythms of grace." My attention was caught and held by this lyric, as I have had the privilege of experiencing firsthand the benefits of grace this past year, and now understand that there is truly no other way I'd rather live.
Obviously Brian Doerksen has had some personal interaction with this concept, or he wouldn't have phrased it so beautifully in this peaceful song. He begins by saying, "Learn the unforced rhythms..." and then, "Live the unforced rhythms of grace." It really does feel this way to me, as though true grace is unforced. You can't summon it at will or make it happen on your own. Fighting against it is also a useless exercise. Simply surrendering to it and trusting it to carry you on its current has been tremendously eye opening for me.
I lived by the letter of the law for so much of my life, thinking that was what the Christian life was all about. I now have a radically different definition. I place mercy and grace much higher than judgement and rule books in my day to day existence now, and it's so much easier to feel peace and joy with this altered mindset. I have been learning about grace, and the freedom to make mistakes, and be loved anyway. I recognize my value in who I am, and not what I do, and that distinction has given me peace on a level that I couldn't begin to understand before.
Living out grace on a day-to-day basis is a new adventure. I love how fresh and enthusiastic I feel about this idea that if I fail, I can be forgiven. It's not about getting it right in this life, but instead a focus on love and kindness; trying and failing is much better than not trying at all. I was only pretending when I thought I had it all together, and when I pushed myself to never make mistakes or show weakness of any kind. Weakness and vulnerability are not the enemies I once perceived them to be. They are actually strengths, when we are brave enough to face our own limitations.
Stress is directly related to how much we expect from ourselves in any given situation. We have to be reasonable with ourselves, and untie our worth from our activities: they are not one and the same. Learning this has been life changing for me, and slowly learning and then living the unforced rhythms of grace has provided more freedom than anything I've discovered to this point.