Grace is Power, Not An Excuse
I looked in the mirror this morning after I prayed and saw all that I am: a wife, mother, daughter, niece, cousin, and auntie. The woman standing there gazing into the glass was powerful, not because of what she has been through, but because of what she believes. More specifically, she is capable because of her faith:
… but he has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you; for my power is being perfected in your weakness.” Therefore, I will all the more gladly boast in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. (2 Corinthians 12:9 AMP)
Can you think of a time where you stood in your own way and missed out on something because of it? I struggled with making excuses for years. I graduated high school and went to college for music education because I really loved to play the trumpet. I dug the education part because I’ve always had an appreciation for teaching, but I didn’t realize that there would be such an intense expectation for practicing so after two years of achieving mediocre grades, I left that school. My excuse? College was hard, especially the time management part. I had options, Bosses, but I was prideful and young. There were so many majors I could have done instead, but I walked away from college telling myself that I wasn’t cut out for it. There was a reset button that I needed to hit, but I didn’t know it yet.
Now I was in my twenties. In the years that followed dropping out of college, I met a guy. He was a chaotic type of guy who I allowed to expose me to some things I’d never seen or done. I’ve always been a family woman; I still call my mom every day and as the youngest in my sibling order, I have always been close to my sisters. During the time that I was with this guy though, those relationships suffered because I lost myself in new experiences that, in hindsight, were unrewarding. My family did their best to support me as he and I hit roadblock after roadblock. When our time ended, I did my best to let him go despite the fact that we didn’t help each other grow at all. We had a very dependent relationship; we loved each other but I had too much to learn about loving myself to have a healthy relationship.
I felt broken after we split, but still didn’t pursue the reset I so needed. I did spend a few years alone, swallowed up by bad habits. I drank too much and kept my circle small; I wasn’t proud of what I was doing because I felt like I wasn’t really doing anything at all. I took a leap of faith while I was trying to drink my life away though; I applied for a job with a really cool company but kept my expectations reasonable because I knew I was a mess.
Oddly, I had prepared myself to lose but that really cool company hired me and that’s where I met the man who is now my husband. Although I was down on myself, these strangers saw something in me that I could not. It was at this point that I saw an end to the period of self-sabotage that I had allowed for so long. A light at the end of the tunnel where, once I arrived, I had to be better. It’s funny how one change can empower you and push you in the right direction when you’re open to it.
It took some time for me to begin taking strides toward self-empowerment but giving birth to a daughter ignited something in me that I never expected. See, if I wanted her to know strength at all, I had to be the example. I took hold of my future upon my girl’s arrival. I got back in school and am almost finished with the degree that I left behind all those years ago. It won’t be a degree in Music Education; instead, it’ll be In Accounting. I’ve got a very usable background in math and business; years ago, I would’ve laughed if someone told me I would earn this degree.
Bosses, there was one more major step that I took in order to reset and that was the one back to Our Creator. I considered how blessed I am and always have been but when I thought about how grateful I had been over time, I knew I was missing the mark. Again, a small change made a big difference for me when I started making gratitude a priority because it made God’s grace more evident than ever. God had been faithful to me for many years, despite the fact that I had gone astray. It truly must be the prayers of our ancestors that get us through the times when we forget or lose our faith.
It’s very invigorating to me to know that I don’t need my own strength to accomplish anything. I spent too much time fighting against factors in my life that I couldn’t change on my own and neglected the vital practice of requesting God’s presence in my endeavors; because God is who He is, He blessed me anyway. I felt powerless and somehow pulled through.
In a land where girls run the world, it can be hard to view your faults and weaknesses as an advantage but according to the Most High, he’s got us. If you’re being made powerful in your weakness, you simply cannot fail.
I’m a witness that He can take you from a place of discouragement to a destination of victory. But you have to place your trust in him and stop trying to win these battles on your own.
Be persistent because the power and grace of God is behind you.
Jeannelle “Jean” Burton