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Discovering Grace

When I discovered the Enneagram it was like unearthing a map to myself.  Once I finally figured out what number I was, I dove into the research to find out why on earth I act the way I do.  And it has proven to be extremely helpful over the years, giving me insight into my default modes and thus the awareness and the freedom to choose something different.

For those who know the Enneagram I am a type 1, which means I am an Improver (or, the less preferred name - a Perfectionist).  This means that I like to control things in order to improve or fix them.  Things or people - like my poor husband and children.  My intentions are always good and I want what I think is best, but it results in me carrying a lot of expectations and very high standards for everyone around me - most especially for myself.  I see everything that is wrong and I can’t let it go.

The solution I read was simple: discover grace.  

I had sung about grace since childhood, but had I ever really understood it or lived it?

Grace means breaking the systems. My systems that I put in place to run things smoothly, to mitigate risks, to improve our lives and better ourselves. The rules that I follow to be a good human being and the terribly rigid example that I try to set for my students and my family - suddenly when grace shows up they don’t matter so much.  They don’t matter at all.

Grace looks at my messy life and says: “I still love you”, “You are still wonderful”, “This isn’t what I’m measuring you by”.  Grace looks at my misled mind, my anxious heart or frustration and anger and says: “Guess what?  I love you completely anyways.”

Grace isn’t about meeting a standard - in fact grace can only happen when a standard is NOT met.  This is why we all qualify for God’s perfect grace -  it is enough for all of us and all of our shortcomings.  We all miss the standards.  And God says: “I got you covered.”

Praise be to God who breaks through to free us from our self-imposed prisons of self-righteousness and unattainable perfection! No matter our Enneagram type, God gives us grace daily to get beyond all of the self-reliant systems that weigh us down and God gives us the grace to bear the burdens we cannot escape.  None of it is any match for God’s grace!  

Grace means to live in the freedom and the joy that comes from releasing our need to be enough and to do it all ourselves.  It means admitting we can’t, we aren’t perfect, and that’s OK - because God is. 

What a beautiful way to live!  God’s grace is sufficient to cover ALL of the things my anxious Enneagram 1 self wants to change.  And it is fully sufficient to free YOU from whatever has enslaved you as well.  May you walk lighter and freer today as you live out of His Grace!

-Kelly Joyce (a recovering perfectionist and grateful member of the COBI community)

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