I am not a graceful person by nature. If there is a step I will trip on it. If there is a fragile decoration nearby, I will break it. If there is a wall, I will bump into it. If there is a screen door open, I will walk through it. (Yes that has really happened.) But the good news is that even though I might not be naturally graceful, I have discovered that I am a woman full of grace. I am also full of gratitude, generosity, growth and gifts, all of which are patterns for joyful living. If you want to learn more about gratitude and generosity read this blog post. Today we will focus on grace, growth and gifts.
Being full of grace is not dependent on our agility or nimbleness; rather it is contingent on our openness and willingness to receive it into our lives. Once we receive it, only then can it be given to others. Now to be honest I have not always been good at receiving grace and love. I would much rather be the giver, but I am learning that joyful living is a two way street. If I deny someone else the opportunity to bestow grace and goodness on me, I am robbing them of the opportunity to experience joy. How can you open yourself up today to receive grace from others?
The other piece of grace is becoming a grace dispenser into other people’s lives. That might mean ministering to someone who is sick or listening to someone with a broken heart or speaking words of encouragement to someone who doubts themselves. However you choose to dispense grace make sure you do it with unconditional love.
The next pattern of joyful living is to grow. We are called to be fruit bearers in life not just busy bodies, which means that in order for us to be fruitful we must grow. If you plant an apple seed into the ground and it chooses just to stay a seed, will you ever get any apples from it? No, but yet many of us want to stay as we are. One of my favorite quotes by Max De Pree is “we cannot become who we are meant to be by remaining who we are.” We must be willing to learn and step out of our comfort zone to do that. Each day ask yourself what is one new thing I learned today. It can be a big thing like how to operate a new piece of technology. It can be a simple thing like learning that if you smile at someone they will most likely smile back at you. An apple tree will bear fruit, but once that season is over it will drop the apples and go into a season of preparation so that come spring it will once again be able to grow and bear new fruit. Growing doesn’t only involve studying, but also involvement. Participate in new challenges and discover what joyful living is all about.
What gifts do you have? I don’t mean presents, but rather talents and strengths. And how are you using these gifts? 1 Peter 4:10 tells us that “God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another” (NLT). Joy will flow in your life when you are doing what you were made for. If math isn’t your strength don’t try to be a numbers ninja. If cooking isn’t your strength, don’t try to be a culinary chef. Embrace the gifts you have been given and then use them not only for work, but to also serve others.
When we are living a life that is filled with patterns of gratitude, generosity, grace, growth and gifts we will see joy abound. Today make this a daily practice and watch your joy awaken!
Discussion with Dawn: I would love to hear how you have received grace and how you are growing and using your gifts in life.