My five-month is in a funny stage. He just learned to turn over and can't stop now, even though he really doesn't like to sleep that way yet. There's been a lot of crying and training this last week.
My four-year-old is in a stage too (oh my). She insists on "big sister rest time" now and wants to give up naps, but by five in the evening, she's an emotional mess (and so am I). If she gets worn out enough to take a good long nap, she's up until 9:30 or 10 in the evening, keeping her big sister up.
Now that I've been through these things with big sister, I remind myself that this is just a stage and patience is needed. They need grace for this growing season.
Then I think about how we're all in in these awkward stages of growth in one way or another. God is the perfect Father, guiding and correcting us as we grow.
As we relate to each other in the Church, in our friendships, and in our marriages, we'll bump up against these awkward stages in someone sooner or later. How are we to respond?
The Apostle Paul wrote about how he felt about waiting for the Christians in Galatia to grow and mature. He writes "my little children, for whom I am again in the anguish of childbirth until Christ is formed in you!" (Galatians 4:19). Doing the work of helping others grow in maturity was like childbirth for him! It's painful work, but there's no giving up in the middle.
Some kinds of growth we'll see right before our eyes. Other kinds of growth require an even longer hope and vision.
Showing grace in the growing takes trust that the Holy Spirit will faithfully work in someone's life. You obey and do what you are asked to do, and then you TRUST. Train you children, memorize Scripture with them, correct them, discipline them . . . and then TRUST. Desire their growth, not their perfect performance.
Showing grace in the growing looks forward to the day Jesus will make all things right, even us. 1 John 3:2 says, "Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when " appears we shall be like , because we shall .When our worship of God is finally perfected, we will be perfected (or maybe it's other way around; when we are finally perfected, our worship of Him is perfected too?).
The great things about giving away grace? You get to keep it too.
Maybe that's what's meant in Matthew 7:2 where is says, "For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." If you judge others harshly and without grace, it will be really hard to extend that same grace to yourself when you don't meet your own standards. If you measure others with grace, you'll allow yourself the same.
Allowing each other grace proclaims that the Gospel is real--that because of the cross, we are freely pardoned and given the perfect goodness of Jesus the Son. Hands full of such grace can't help but share.
You can read more about grace in relationship in a series I wrote starting here or under "relationships" on the Topics page.