(This is part of the Enemies of Grace series. Click here to learn more.)
Ever feel like your life has fallen a little out of tune?
I still remember trying to play a quiet, old hymn on the piano, called “Haven of Rest.” Sounds like a perfect tune for a group of sleepy nursing home residents doesn’t it? I was a high school student at the time, playing for a worship service at a local rest home.
(Before I move on, let me just go ahead and admit that it sounds more altruistic than it actually was: The guy I was crushing on at the time was part of the school service team that led these services. Enough said.)
The music was (supposed to be) gentle and beautiful, a song from yesteryear to stir memories in the hearts of the aging residents. But as I started playing the music, I cringed. What is that awful sound?
Twisted, tinny noises were coming out of the piano, which looked to be older than some of the octogenarians dozing nearby. It obviously hadn’t been tuned in years, and my soothing melody was quickly turning into a honky-tonk horror. Several of the keys stuck as I tried to play, leaving ugly voids in the melody.
I soldiered on, managing to hit most of the right notes. But the grace notes weren’t very graceful that day. And the out-of-tune instrument contorted my pretty music into something flat and stale. It just didn’t have any heart.
Sometimes, friends, my life feels like that piano I played so many years ago. Despite good intentions and lots of “practice” at a life of grace, there are times when my heart goes off key. Days when my faith falls flat, or I get stuck in old patterns. Moments when I lose heart.
Anyone else been there?
Sometimes my heart turns into a snarled mess of anxiety, insecurity, and fear. I know “in my head” that God loves me—but my heart gets squeezed by doubt. I question my worth and my decisions. I wonder, deep down, is God disappointed in me?
These are not “More Like Grace” moments, friends. More Like Gloom, perhaps.
Over the years, I’ve noticed a few things about these times when I’m feeling out of tune with God’s grace. Certain attitudes and actions that sneak into my heartstrings and slowly tweak them off-key. I’ve begun to think of these qualities as the “enemies” of grace.
When they creep into my life, they put my defenses up, separating me from others and from God. Instead of helping me lean into God’s love and grace, they pull me in, toward self-reliance. And we all know that never ends well.
I want to do better, friends. So in the coming weeks, I invite you to join me as I explore these “Enemies of Grace” in a blog series. I won’t be writing as an expert: I still struggle with all of them at times. But together, I hope we can learn to recognize these tendencies where they show up in our lives, and make progress in uprooting them.
Join me in examining the following list. Do any of these tendencies sound like you? Could they be roadblocks that are keeping you from experiencing more grace and growth?
Perfectionism – Putting our need to appear strong and in control above our obedience to God’s quiet voice.
Shame – Hiding ourselves from God and others because we’re ashamed of our failures.
Comparison – Twisting cords of insecurity and judgmentalness around our hearts.
Busyness – Allowing the good things to get in the way of greater things—being distracted from God’s gentle call.
Disconnection/Withdrawal – Being separated from others—by choice or by circumstances—and living with lonliness.
Greed – Looking for joy in our possessions, experiences, or accomplishments: Always desiring “more,” never saying “it’s enough.”
Pride – Relying on ourselves to accomplish our own agendas, instead of leaning on God to show us His plans.
These are tricky little habits, aren’t they? They have a way of disguising themselves as virtue and sneaking into our hearts when we’re not looking. Even with the best of intentions, our motives and moods can shift into these unhealthy territories. And when we do, our joy starts to fall flat. We lose heart.
We all hit moments and days—sometimes even months and years—when we feel “off” in our walk with God. Maybe you’re there right now. And you feel a little helpless to find your way back to true.
Don’t be discouraged, dear heart.
If you’ve been feeling disconnected from God lately, it might just be that you’ve been taken hostage by one of these “Enemies of Grace.” Let’s take a look at these common struggles—and prayerfully consider how they might be showing up in our lives. If we can be honest about the ugly, we can get to the good.
I invite you to read the posts in this series. You can skip to the ones that seem most relevant, but I’d encourage you to take a look at them all. Share your comments and join other sisters on this journey. Together, let’s fight these enemies of grace!
Are you in?
Check out the Enemies of Grace series page and start reading!