Being at home this Thanksgiving break has given me a lot to process through.
First, I've realized that my family severely lacks in grace. I think this is one of the biggest tragedies about my family. This is also what makes it so unpleasant to be around my family for any extended period of time. It is very sad to see how people function when they are not accustomed to grace.
The way my parents raised me was very justice-based. If my brother or I did something wrong (or if they thought we did something wrong), we would get punished. Except the punishments rarely fit the crime. In retrospect, I got punished for a lot of things that I didn't know were wrong. They never took the time to explain it anyways. So I grew up very confused and always walking on eggshells, because I didn't know when I was going to get punished for something. And I never knew what grace looked like, because it was never displayed to me.
Even more sadly, the way my parents interact with each other and their own family show a lack of grace as well. I mean, a life without grace? How does the Gospel even have any relevance to a life like that? I can understand the attraction one would have towards it, but I question how real the impact is if it doesn't change their day to day interactions.
I think college has taught me a lot about grace. When I entered college, I was like a poorly cared for animal-easily spooked, distrusting, independent to a fault. I had a very limited notion of what living out the Gospel could look like. I wasn't accustomed to living or dealing with people who gave grace, so I didn't know how to give any to others. However (and I thank the Lord above for the way He dealt with me), God placed some amazing people in my life who had had encounters with the Gospel, which allowed them to give me grace for being ungracious to them. I've learned a lot from them.
Second, I think I have a guilt problem with spending money. Did not see that coming, lol, especially considering my pre-college spending habits. Shoot, I would FLY through my money. And now I feel guilty when my parents or my grandma give me money. And telling them what I want for Christmas? Oh man, I feel almost embarrassed about telling them, even though they ask!
I think I'm striving for balance right now; my work/life balance and my saving/spending balance. I've simplified my life a lot since freshman year of college, and I'm much more mature with how I spend my money. So why do I feel so guilty spending money on myself? I mean, I tithe, save and invest diligently, so why can't I enjoy my spending, too? I think there's a lot more here to process through, and I'm interested as to what I'll uncover.
Third, and somewhat unrelated to being at home are these verses from 1 Samuel 22-23:
"Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices,
as in obeying the voice of the LORD?
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,
and to listen than the fat of rams.
23For rebellion is as the sin of divination,
and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry." (emphasis mine)
Whoa. To obey is better than sacrifice? I feel like I've always valued sacrifice. Especially because the importance of Jesus Christ's self-sacrifice for the sake of humanity is constantly emphasized (and rightly so). But I've never really given thought to the fact that Christ's crucifixion was as much about (perhaps even more so) obedience than sacrifice.
I found this passage to be very convicting for me. If obedience is valued more than sacrifice in the eyes of the Lord, then am I being obedient to the God I swore to give my life to? What areas in my life do I struggle with obedience? And do I even take the time out of my day to listen, really listen for what He has to say to me? I can't obey if I don't listen. How fruitful are my quiet times?
Lots to think about. So thankful for the Savior that came down to Earth approximately 2000 years ago to save me and the rest of the world from an eternity spent apart from God. So thankful for the life He's given me and the places He's placed me to do His calling. So thankful for the way He continually pursues my heart.
My God is good. :)