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The Enabling Power of Grace

Blog / Produced by The High Calling
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Ever had a friend who keeps having the same problems over and over? Or found yourself facing similar dilemmas in your own life, time after time? How could you not? By that I mean, being who we are, we almost inevitably construct the same masterpiece of difficulties for ourselves time and again.

Got a mother problem? A father problem? A woman problem? Man problem? Do you love too much? Too little? Unwisely?

Therapy is all about feelings and the masterful decoding of those feelings by the therapist and finally the client. In the end though, successful therapy has almost nothing to do with feelings. It’s about making choices different than the ones that lead into the customary cul de sac. Albert Einstein defined insanity as repeating the same act expecting a different result. When we begin to act differently, life’s problems don’t go away, but their natures can change dramatically. Different choices and actions lead to a changed emotional life. Nothing else does. As long as we ride the same pony around and around in the same circle, we feel the same way.

A strange thing about our emotional lives is their eternal nature. Time does not exist for emotional constructs. If you have a father problem, as I once did, you feel the same way about what’s happened between your dad and you from the onset of these feelings until death, unless the complex of negative emotions is somehow broken. A man I know is continually angry at his mother for being an alcoholic, even though the mother sobered up 40 years ago and has remained sober. Emotionally, my friend is right where he was at seven years of age, and he can’t get beyond it. This may sound like an extreme case, but how many have family disputes that run along the same lines year after year? Powerful nets of negative emotions are timeless.

Reality plus forgiveness equals peace, gratitude, and a renewal of love. There’s a formula for you. There’s always a lie that keeps us bound in our negativity. Usually the lie is of our own invention—something we have conjured up as a way to justify ourselves or fend off what we believe to be an even more terrible grief than the one we unwittingly chose. So we have to confront the reality at the center of the pony ride. Most people can’t or won’t unless they fall off—or get so frustrated with the ride they simply can’t stand it any more.

If we see the truth, we have the chance to act upon it. Often the first action called for is to forgive others, ourselves, life, or God. The very possibility of forgiveness is anathema to many, because forgiveness foregoes justice. Many people get stuck here. Many pretend that they have forgiven, or like to think that they have forgiven, but they are, secretly and sadly, unable to do so. Their range of action is therefore limited and often has little effect.

Those who can forgive find themselves grateful for all the ways they have been sustained while lost in their own never-ending circle. The blinders come off and they see the people around them who are so precious.

Take a look at Jesus on the Cross. What do you see? Whatever your own reality, its grief and suffering register in Jesus on the Cross.

Whoever you are blaming—others, yourself, life, or God—Jesus opens his arms wide to the accusation. He takes all the hatred you can muster. He dies from it.

Even before He dies, Jesus proclaims his forgiveness for that hatred.

Then Jesus rises, performing an action never before seen.

This reality, this forgiveness, enables us to perform actions that are not ours and so change us. The old complex of negative emotions can be absorbed by Jesus on the Cross and die, quickly and forever, with Him. We are not so good at forgiving, but Jesus is great at it, and this greatness allows us a range of action impossible without it.

When we can see the risen Lord, then we can see those who love us. Then we can be grateful. Then we can be free.

That’s the enabling power of grace.
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