I shared last week about the importance of letting go of guilt—and embracing grace.
Now some of you may have read that post and muttered under your breath, that’s easier said than done. Because we don’t have a magic-miraculous-memory-marker that can scribble out the mistakes we’ve made as if they never happened—even though we’re forgiven, we may still remember them. And also there are times when we know we should feel guilty—when we’re deeply (and healthily) aware of our shortcomings, flaws, propensity to hurt others, self-centeredness . . . our sin.
And so we must see that “letting go” is part of the conversation rather than the final statement on guilt and grace.
Another critical aspect of experiencing grace—of really living in its power—is courageously seeing our flaws and failings, acknowledging them, and even (strangely) treasuring them.
Wait, what? Was that a typo?
Because here’s what I’ve been learning from some amazing, spiritual writers. In What’s So Amazing About Grace?, Philip Yancey discusses what happens “when I begin to see myself as a sinner who cannot please God by any method of self-improvement or self-enlargement. Only then can I turn to God for outside help—for grace—and to my amazement I learn that a holy God already loves me deeply despite my defects. . . . Our wounds and defects are the very fissures through which grace might pass.”
And Max Lucado evokes a similar imagery: “Grace. Let it, let him, so seep into the crusty cracks of your life that everything softens. Then let it, let him, bubble to the surface, like a spring in the Sahara, in words of kindness and deeds of generosity.”
Fissures. Cracks. Fractures, chinks, rifts, and wrinkles. The lines that mark our living. The painful memories. The dogged habits. The heavy regrets. The spur-of-the-moment ugliness.
Our guilt and pain, our failures and flaws, are the means through which we experience the grace of Christ. They show us our need. They bring us to the Cross in penitence or desperation.
And they can even become avenues of life and light and love.