Christine Duncan

Precepts & Life Preservers

Tag: Grace (page 2 of 3)

Shame Only Robs Us Of What’s Real

Shame Robs Us Of What's Real

Ah. I did my fair share of pretending in my life.

And in the end, all my pretending did was delay an important diagnosis, which, as a result, caused me to miss out on some of the aforementioned real life and all that goes with it.

So when I read the above quote while reading the book version of “The Song” by Chris Fabry and Richard L. Ramsey, a modernized account of King Solomon turned into the stuff of movies, I kind of took a breath.

I couldn’t have said it better.

Pretending cheats us out of living in the light of truth.

It’s not noble.

It’s not easy.

It’s not the answer.

And yet we do it way more than we think we do.

It’s our knee-jerk reaction to wanting to hide in the crowd. Avoid drawing unwanted attention and advice. And in the process, miss the gifts others might have for you.

What He has for you.

And meanwhile, truth heals us. But then we go ahead and make it complicated. And it doesn’t have to be.

I’m such an example of this. When I told the right people about my symptoms, the truth brought freedom. And a diagnosis that was for more than just me.

And that freedom gave me a new lease on how to live.

A hard process to be sure, but so worth it.

Mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.

I don’t say it lightly, but God was able to use my Dysthymia to bring a freedom I had been lacking. Lacking for nearly three decades.

My diagnosis ended my need to pretend.

Pretending I felt like everyone else.

Pretending I could pile task after task on my plate and not crumble from the meltdown.

Pretending to be chipper.

Pretending that home was perfect.

Pretending anxiety and depression and everything they entail were never in my vocabulary.

I’m told I had a lot of people fooled.

Not something to ever be proud of. Means many people only had a peak at the real me.  And I truly thought I was doing everyone a favour.

Pretending will never do us any favours.

It only keeps out help, compassion, health, healing, resolve, and grace.

And keeps us trapped in the very grip of whatever we need to be delivered from.

How well I know.

And I also know that pretending, also known as deception, is good pals with shame.

And isn’t that what the enemy’s motive boils down to. If he can’t trick us with lies, he’ll build up lies that condemn and bring shame.

“No one will understand this.”

“No one will believe you, and then what?”

“Think of how this will make your whole family look?”

“Tell them the truth and suddenly watch your friends disappear.”

“Show them your scars and flaws and people are going to think you don’t have enough faith.”

And we’ve been trained to want acceptance at any cost.

Valuable turf for shame to claim.

And shame only robs us of what is real.

God wants us to know that shame does not have our best interests at heart. 

And that through one historic transaction on the Cross, shame cannot force the currency of pretending and suffering on us any longer.

His truth for us is spelled out in real grace, real mercy, real forgiveness, real love, real healing and real freedom.

“For the grace of God has displayed itself with healing power towards all mankind!” Titus 2:11

Grace with His healing power extended to us removes all shame.

Take a deep breath, friends. What have you hidden recently? Disguised? Camouflaged? Dressed up or played down?

Shame will whisper that there’s no one who will get it.

But that’s a lie.

Even if there weren’t another soul, God’s got you.

Don’t cheat yourself and God out of a truth-filled life.

He wants to give us life and give it to us abundantly, richly, powerfully.

Even if you can’t tell another soul just yet…

Tell Him.

And watch as He weaves you a world where you don’t have to pretend anymore.

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Want to join us over at Jennifer Dukes Lee’s
#TellHisStory linkup today?
We’d love if you’d open the link in the hashtag above!!!

Share The Care

Can we start the week with something good?

I’m thinking we need to ‘share the care’.

Over the last few months, as the blog has grown, I’ve met an enormous amount of women and men, young, and old alike, who are all walking through life with a mantle of depression in some shape or form. Many are bloggers themselves, some are business gurus, some are moms and dads, some are retired, some are in ministry. And all have this disorder that cannot be taken lightly.

But I’ve watched something take place each time we introduce ourselves. Universally, we always wind up saying, quite sincerely to one another, to “take care of yourself!” as we leave a conversation.

And it always feels nice.

And I know many people say this as a fond goodbye to one another, but when someone with depression says it to another person with depression, we say it because it’s no easy thing, and we say it because we’re sort of each others hope.

We say it because it’s in our best interest to care.

The thought process behind it kind of looks like this, “If someone else knows I care, they’ll make it through. If I know someone else will keep taking care of themselves, I’ll know I can make it through too.”

And here’s the thing. Out of the hundreds I’ve met now that have revealed, sometimes for the very first time, that they suffer with depression or a mood disorder, we all know there are thousands who will never tell someone.

And I guess my question is this.

Who will care for those hidden people?

Who’s going to share caring with them? Extend caring and concern and grace?

All too often I’ve figured someone had their lives neatly packaged, when under the surface they were struggling with anxiety or addiction or grief or illness. And often, it’s hard to explain the unexplainable with people. How many times in my younger life (pre-diagnosis) did I say, “I’ve got nothing to be upset and emotional and tired about. No one’s going to understand this. Who going to understand this if I bring it up?” So we never bring it up.

We’ve got to start the week sharing some heavy-duty care with everyone we cross paths with.

No, this is not a call to rescue everyone, drag them to the doctor’s, drag them to prayer circle, make them watch a Dr.Oz marathon, and pile their front porch with frozen casseroles, although, if you wanted to do that to me, the casserole delivery I mean, I’d be totally down with that.

This is just a call to raise a care flag.

 

To smile at someone today because you might be the only one who does.

Really listen. I don’t know how many times someone has asked me how I was, then started walking away before I gave an answer. Or waited for the answer only to rush to outdo mine with their own. So plant your feet in their personal direction and give the impression you mean to find out exactly how they are, and show you care. Better yet, when was the last time you had coffee with them and allotted them real time.

Pay them a deserved compliment. Don’t be fake. Just be aware. Build someone up for a bit with your words so that when someone else comes along whose words bring them down, it won’t be the only part of their day they remember.

Extend grace. I was with some people one day who somehow wound up making fun of a young woman who’d seemingly had pale, pale make-up on, “and that look is just so ridiculous!” but in reality, the woman being flogged verbally was simply a young mom who was just happy she’d gotten out of the house for a bit and was lucky with four kids in tow to have been dressed in clean clothes, so yes, she was tired and pale. But she was making it through her day, and deserved to be spoken about with some grace. I left the conversation wondering who had said similar things like that about me on my lowest days. Grace. All grace, please. Grace all week.

Send someone a short note telling them how much they are appreciated. Sign it if you want, or leave it anonymous for a surprise.

Hug friends good-bye and when you tell them to “take care” do it while holding a hand and looking them in the eye.

Small things that make a difference. Because they offer tangible hope and support. Even when they may not realise they need it that day.

Let’s start our week sharing the care, let’s spread it into someones day. Let’s look after each other. It’s important.

It’s what Christ would do.

And then some.

More than preaching to them, Christ built people up with real care. He was found spending time in their homes, helping man boats and nets, he smiled with anyone, he sat down and listened. He grieved with, ate with, celebrated with, travelled with, worked with, and spread the concept of care.

He went so far as to lay down His life.

I’m just asking that we shed some grace and love on some people this week, in His name.

In case they’re starving for someone to care.

Let’s start our week right.
What are some ways you’ve shown someone you cared, in the moment, or on purpose? I’d love to hear them in the comments below!

 

The Perfect Covering

We’ve had sun two whole days in a row and it makes me giddy.

But the nights have been an unrelenting cold, and so we’ve piled high the warmest blankets on the beds, and burrow into them at night.

And then we don’t move from them till absolutely necessary.

My favorite is a quilt we’ve owned for almost twenty years.

Got it in a shrewd business deal.

No we didn’t, I just like that phrase.

We got it on sale in a department store who accidentally tagged these big beautiful king sized quilts the same price as the twin size, and then never noticed till after they scanned mine through. If the lady had decided to fight it, our tiny budget wouldn’t have allowed for it. But she didn’t, and now we bury ourselves in it every year.

And every year it gets better. Softer. More worn from use. Completely melded to us. Sure some stitches need mending every year. Sure the colours have softened. But it’s perfect. In twenty more years I’ll probably be trying to valiantly cover up with the last tiny square of it. That’s how perfectly weathered it is.

Super warm in winter, and cool white and so light on its own in the summer. It looks and feels like home. People see it on our bed and remark on the perfect quilt, and ask if it’s from Mennonite country (not far from us) and I pat it tenderly and say, “no, Kmart.”

This quilt has come through some hard stuff though. Days when I was a new mom and had zero energy and parked a toddler on the bed to play while I laid there wondering why I had no get-up-and-go and I had only been up a few hours.  Days where I would hug it to myself and cry when no one was looking, but could never figure out why. Fast forward over a decade and a half later to days when I used it as a way to shield out the day completely, hiding under it, debating if I was ever going to leave the bed. Never knowing at the time that it was just the chronic depression rolling in, again, and only getting up when people were around so they would think I was fine.

Propping ourselves on it for middle of the night talks when my dysthymic induced insomnia would compel me to pick things apart and we would battle with tired words and apologies and my husband’s head hitting it with sleep when he wanted so badly to fix me.

The day I wept into it, relieved to find out I was not an awful human being, just one crippled with a mood disorder that had never been diagnosed, that would wax and wane on its own timetable, and that I could find ways to live closer to normal after all.

This quilt has seen a lot. So it’s just one of my favorite things.

And on days where the insomnia from my chronic D rears its head, I now snuggle into it, turn a small light on, and grab the Bible off my even older stepping stool that my Papa used to use for gardening many moons ago, but is now a sentry at my bedside, and I page through until I find Words to soothe the restless dysthymic heart. And His Words and my quilt are suddenly complete comfort.

And on great days, I perch there, sun shining through the window, piled with books and journals and laptop, and I study and write and absorb, and ask God to show me Himself more completely.

The bed I used to hide in now becomes a place of nourishment and rest. The quilt standing in for a visual reminder of His goodness.

I checked out the words blanket and cover in the Bible, and in Hebrew, Greek… and then realised the words tie into one of my favorite comfort verses from the Psalms…

“He will cover you with His feathers, and under His very wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart!” Psalm 91:4

Yep. We’re like small chicks in a nest. And sometimes we need Him to take us under His wing, and cover us, the way a parent bird would, and under that wing, we’re not just covered for protection, but a billion layers of feathers lighter than air, keep us warm and dry and comforted while the world rains things down on us, or when the soul’s winter tries to move in.

He blankets us in His grace, and promised faithfulness, and His strength. We can hide in it. Wait there. Heal there. Come alive there.

I sit here on the quilt, feel the sun cross it in little squares of light, and I think about coverings and covenant provisions.

Surrounding you in darkest night. Soaking in all sun and light by day.

And I change my mind.

He’s my favorite covering by far. He is perfect. The quilt a distant but comfy second.

I pray we start and end each day with His perfect covering.

Days of Grace

Grace.

Where would I be without it?

For all the days I’ve been less than impressive with my interactions, with my varied attitudes, and my words.

When I lost my cool, lost my nerve, lost my way. For every single moment I lost it, period. But somehow, we never lose Grace.

For all the times I’ve stuck my foot in my mouth, too many to count. And all the times I should have spoken up and never did, afraid I’d be judged, laughed at, or even worse, dismissed.

For all the ways I’ve let others down.
Or should have picked others up.

All the days I just truly missed the mark.

And don’t get me started with my thoughts. The rambling ones, the misguided ones, the greedy ones, the self-righteous ones.

But Grace. Grace invades every single “for-all-the-times” and seeps into every action or reaction, and sweeps it all up with a “let’s try this all again” attitude.

For all the posts and articles and memes and quotes about giving thanks, I think when all is said and done, I’m so very thankful for the unrelenting application of daily, or more truthfully, minute by minute, Grace.

And now here I stand on the first day of Advent, staring into the miracle Christmas legacy, and what do I find staring back at me but the first true glimpse of Grace. The newborn face of Grace.

Ours is the only faith that comes wrapped up in this earth shattering, celestial choir shouting, manger dwelling Grace.  And it is the only faith where Grace will later, inspired by its powerful counterpart Mercy, allow itself to be torn apart on a cross, knowing full well that Grace’s work wasn’t finished, but just beginning, on that hill.

Grace announced by warrior messenger to humble women, and elderly priest. Grace accessed first by common shepherds, stabled creatures, and then by wise men who knew the shape of Grace when they saw it. Knelt before it.

Knelt before Him.

And is it any wonder that when we continue to come face to face with Grace, we still kneel?

We kneel at a provision that never came with strings. We kneel out of gratitude and the magnitude of our lives forever changed by grace. Grace that makes redemption possible. Grace that makes poor men rich. Grace that extends and reaches and gives without stopping.

We kneel at the throne of what? Grace. Not because we’re ever told we’re nothing and therefore must lower ourselves. But because Grace demands we be given a new name. One of value and delight and hard-won victory. Victory via Grace. And we kneel in Grace’s presence with complete awe and adoration.

Yep. The holidays. The holy-days. It can all be a little daunting this time of year.

But Grace.

It’s standing by, waiting for us, ready to work through us, to work in us, and all we have to do is let it. And let Him.

Surpassing our moments of unbelief, blanketing our times of well-meaning, readjusting our feelings of worthiness…

Grace. Unassuming and tender. Unrelenting and reviving.

“The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. And we have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14

No other promises you this Grace.

The same Grace that needed to be so near us, to rescue us, that it arrived on a cold Bethlehem night, and has made Himself available for every soul in every moment.

I find myself so very thankful and full of wonder this advent, for these days of Grace.

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