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Just a quick note to let you know I've moved my blog to the following address:

http://www.michellebenthamcreates.com

Please visit me at REDEEMED...RESTORED...RELEASED: One Woman's Story of Living Free to read more about what God is doing in my life and how He is working those things to set me free. Thanks so much for following, visiting, reading all about it and supporting me as you have done so many times these last few years. If you follow my other blogs, the posts from all three of my blogs are going to be transferred to the new digs for one big blog about our journey to restoration and freedom in Christ.

Monday, January 19, 2009

God's Grace [PERIOD]

As I've written here, these last few weeks have been extremely painful and difficult for me. However, God has been so good in this time of anguished reality. Yesterday, I went to a group leader's meeting for my Bereaved Mothers group at church while my hubs attended the 9:00 AM worship service. The meeting was informative and refreshing.
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The last 45 minutes were given to the Executive Pastor of "Freedom Ministry" which is the department my group is classified under. Pastor Bob is one of my favorite teachers. He uses subtle humor, relational stories, he processes and thinks deep bringing relative worldly realities into the light by exposing the truth behind them and then he goes into exegetics a bit to firm up the revelation.
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He first thanked each of us for serving in ministry and partnering to help bring God's freedom to the lives of others through our experiences. Then he laid out the foundation of Freedom ministry for us: He doesn't just want us to be about the business of giving good advice, He wants us to bring Good News - and if the good advice points people to the Good News then we are all good.
He concluded our time together by talking about the will. That the world tells us to make better choices, try harder and do more to be better and more righteous - which, BTW, is a Pharisee attitude - (See Colossians 2:18-23). He said, "God's grace is not God winking at sin or giving us a license to sin." He went on to say that to fully embrace our identity in Christ and realize the weight of righteousness does not rest on us, but on God through the cross and resurrection of Christ and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit then we can realize that WE CANNOT TAKE ADVANTAGE OF GOD'S GRACE.
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Did you get that... ?
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Let me say it again. WE CANNOT TAKE ADVANTAGE OF GOD'S GRACE. What He offers is unmerited, unconditional favor - it is FAVOR, Ya'll. Favor we do not deserve, earn or receive as a reward - it is simply God's Love for us wrapped up in His favor shining upon us.
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As Pastor Bob was teaching on this a particular issue began to resonate and rise to the surface.
The issue? The statement I made to my daughter the day this entire mess began to unravel. "I must be gracious to my husband as the Lord has been gracious to me."
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This last week fear and disappointment threatened to rob me of my desire to serve my husband and bring healing to our relationship by meeting his needs. I even said to him, "When do I get to be the one who was violated? When do I get to be the one who is hurt? Why do you take and take and take but never give anything back?"
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You see, in my head I can process that my role is to be the covenant redeemer and to seek restoration in spite of what my husband's response is and not because of it. But in my heart, the wound is deep and old and it has been cut many times. My fear is that my husband will receive all I have to offer and I will be left empty and without return... I fear he will take advantage of the grace I have found myself offering him and not learn the lesson of his mistake.
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In Other Words, I've begun to think that my response to his offense is enabling him to minimize the consequences. CO-DEPENDENT THINKING AND CO-DEPENDENT BEHAVIOR. That says that my desire to please God in my actions depends and is influenced by my husband's response.
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So as Pastor Bob is saying, "You cannot take advantage of God's grace for you...."
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I'm suddenly realizing that the grace I am offering my husband is not grace based on my feelings or my wounds or even how he responds to what I am doing in this circumstance... But, instead - it is grace offered based on Grace received. I am merely being an extension of God's love and grace to my husband in this time of sorting, mending and reconciling.
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I shared with the group, "Since that is true, that means if I offer the same grace to others who hurt me that God has given to me... Then, they cannot take advantage of my grace either."
He had me repeat that again, and then said he was going to write it down. He summed up what I said, "You mean you are not going to live in a co-dependent relationship."
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Yes, absolutely! Talk about truth that will set you free!
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Love ya'll - Hope this blesses your socks off as it did mine. To realize that my forgiving my husband for his hurtful behavior toward me as a demonstration of God's grace and love at work in my life is not giving him license to hurt me again, but instead it is giving him the unconditional favor and opportunity to live in and experience the grace of God at work through me. Now that is the hands and feet of Jesus in action and the work of the Holy Spirit taking down my walls and strongholds.
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GLORY! Excuse me, I need to go put my face to the ground and humbly thank my God for freedom and revelation on a beautiful Sunday morning in January! Be Free... God's Grace [PERIOD] that's all I need.



8 comments:

luvmy4sons said...

Amen...I do think that there is room for truth in the theory of co-dependent behavior...but it must be viewed with the eyes of truth by the Word of God. And God calls us to do amazing things by His grace...of which never runs dry! I am so glad God is working in your life! Be blessed!

Mrs.Naz@BecomingMe said...

This was very wonderful....it is amazing how closely God does hold us and teach us through grief. His grace is unending. Thank you. And i know I've written this before, but I am so very sorry for your loss.

Michelle Bentham said...

Hey There... I want to say that the consequences of his hurtful actions are not minimized by this revelation - it just frees me to rely and be dependent on God for the results and the ability to continue to work toward redeeming the covenant of our marriage.

By understanding that the weight and response of this truth does not depend on how my husband responds to me, but on how God empowers and forgives me. I must live in constant relationship with Him in order to sustain the freedom I need to move in His grace.

The consequences of the hurtful actions on both sides is we have to deal with the painful realities we've created in our marriage and work through them together. That means we also have to deal with messy and sometimes ugly feelings to work through the process. However, it does not mean we have to live there 24/7 until it is resovled. It simply means we have to do the work, and when we've processed what we are dealing with in the moment - we can continue to enjoy one another. At least that is what it means for me... ;o)

It is very freeing...

Thanks for your repsonse... Blessings.

Yolanda said...

Grace...it's more than enough, isn't it Friend???!!!!

Love ya

Julie said...

Dear Friend,
I've just written a post about how I have sabotaged my relationship with my husband due to my need for value. It is part of the journey I have been on.

I'm sending you an email....

Susan said...

Hey Michelle,

I'm so excited for you!!! What a powerful revelation.

Praying for God's grace to continue to ABOUND for you and your marriage.

Blessings♥

Michelle V said...

What a wonderful message!

Blessings
Michelle

LisaShaw said...

Michelle, I continue to believe GOD for the complete healing of you and your husband indivdiually and collectively unto wholeness in Christ that your relationship will be all that GOD has ordained it to be as you both surrender to His grace and the counsel of the Holy Spirit.

God bless you and hold your heart in His hands.