To live by grace means to acknowledge my whole life story, the light side and the dark. In admitting my shadow side I learn who I am and what God’s grace means. ~ Brennan Manning
I remember so clearly sitting in a women’s Sunday School class in my church. As the sun streamed in the windows, I studied the other 50-60 women in the room. I was a young mom of two and eager to grow and learn from those who were older and wiser. I can’t remember the topic that particular morning, but I can still see her lips move as the woman leading the group said these stunning words: “Of course, none of us would ever do anything like that.”
I remember the grievous sin she was referring to and I remember thinking How could you possibly know if any of us has done that or not? And what if someone has, how must she be feeling right now?
I learned a lesson in class that day. This was a place for saints, not sinners. For the next 25 years, I maintained my sainthood and shared only church-acceptable struggles, most of which had to do with someone else: Please pray for my… who is sick, suffering, lost.
Denying my shadow side in public, helped me deny it in private as well. What a joyful day when I finally realized that God’s grace had already covered it all!
As I accept His unbounded grace toward me, I become a safe place for others to share their despair or anger or longings. It’s in that tender, vulnerable place that we become a fellowship of sinners saved by grace, rather than a gathering of saints, afraid to share their sins.