You have a dream. But you also have a life and feel like you’re falling further behind every day. Success is easy, right—Name the Dream | Work Hard and Grow | Achieve Success?! Success is never quite that easy. The grace you receive + the grace you give = your ability to grow with grace. That’s the real formula for success.
Growth: a messy, painful, and slow story
I have yet to find someone who is a real-life overnight success story. The kind of success and achievement we’re looking for isn’t a quick, 5 step process.
Your story is a story of growth and success—a messy, painful, slow story.
We, or at least I, want to be the best version of myself. I want to find my niche and show up every day in ways that point to God and the way he’s working in my life. But if we’re being honest, I’ve been measuring my success in comparison to the people around me. Pageviews, followers, subscribers—numbers are leading me astray and making me long for a story that’s neat and complete.
My story isn’t neat and complete. My story is messy, painful, and slow.
Just a few weeks ago, I stopped at a local convenience store to get lunch. As I parked, I noticed a truck several spots over—a high school ex-boyfriend. Twenty-five years after our short-lived relationship and I’m still squeamish about seeing him. The girl I was in high school didn’t always make great choices. Seeing him brings back 3 years of questionable choices centered around being popular.
I’d like to blot out a few chapters and rewrite some decisions. Sharing myself with you would be more comfortable without the reality of my regrets. If sharing a glimpse of my discomfort encourages your growth, we’ll trudge ahead together.
One day he walks on water, another day he falls asleep during prayers
Our life expectations are unrealistic. We want triumphs and happy endings without hard work and failure. We do the same thing with our spiritual journey. In search of triumphs and miracles, we neglect the humanness of those within scripture.
Peter is one of Jesus’ closest friends. He’s in the inner circle of the inner circle. Idolizing him would be easy because Jesus obviously thought he was really special. You don’t get to be one of Jesus’s closest friends and one-half of the dynamic duo who basically founded the early church without credibility.
But Peter was a very flawed human just like you and me.
His highlight reel is impressive: chosen by Jesus to become a fisher of men instead of a fisherman, walked on water, prepared the upper room for the last communion, and was one of Jesus’s closest companions.
His outtakes are less impressive but very relatable: didn’t fully trust Jesus at all times, started to sink in the same water on which he walked, slept through Jesus’s prayers at Gethsemane, attacked a man for confronting Jesus, denied knowing Jesus 3 times, and got in a dispute with Paul and eventually parted ways.
Yet, Peter was chosen by Jesus and his story (the whole story) continues to influence us today.
Peter’s secret is not a secret because he tells us how to make the best of our story.
“[G]row in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.” 2 Peter 3:18
Grace. Not getting what we deserve for the foolish, callous, and wayward decisions we make creates space for growth.
Jesus extended himself to Peter, giving him time and teaching in such proximity that growth was inevitable. Because of grace, Peter gained knowledge and wisdom to face future decisions and corrections. He was never perfect; he focused on being better.
The same kind of grace exists today for us. We have the presence of the Holy Spirit within us, guiding us, and making knowledge available.
Our expectations are what is out of line. God knows we will mess up. He put supports in place for our growth. We grow when our trust in God is greater than our fear of failure.
Grow with grace
Grace is received and grace is given. Do both for yourself.
Receive grace. Acknowledge what has been done for you. Look for the ways God is leaning into your life. Who are you and what has he called you to do?
Give grace. Allow yourself to release the shame, regret, and unrealistic expectations holding you back. Give yourself permission to make mistakes. Take time to appreciate your story and who you are today. How have you grown?
As you look ahead, grow with grace. Your story will probably be messier, more painful, and slower than you’d like. There will be both triumphs and failures. Nonetheless, your whole story can point to God’s steadfast love and grace.
Who knows? My success might be measured one person at a time. More importantly, the one person might be me. Receiving grace and giving grace might be the practice needed to finally free me from the parts of my story I’d prefer to hide.
Legacies are built of lives. We can grow with grace and build a legacy of grace, but we have to start with ourselves.
Your Next Steps:
Receive grace—how has God’s grace influenced your story?
Give grace—what parts of your story can you release?