I was sitting in my car today at the bank drive-through, and I noticed that my air conditioning wasn’t pumping out very cold air. I looked at the controls and realized that the setting was turned to floor/windshield. So I adjusted it to floor/torso, and I instantly felt the cool relief. This made me wonder, if I’d never felt the coolness of properly adjusted and working a/c before, would I have even noticed that it wasn’t fully working in that moment? It was definitely cooler than the outside temperature, and provided a little relief, but not what I knew was available to me.

That made me wonder about our clients at twentyTHREE61 who suffer from past sexual abuse, from abortions, and from other past traumas. Many of them have a hard time fully receiving God’s grace and forgiveness. They may receive it partially, but more often than not, the common struggle they voice to us is the inability to receive God’s forgiveness or to forgive themselves. Some receive God’s grace generally, for the “good” parts of themselves, some receive it some of the time, but not when they remember what they’ve done (or feel responsible for doing). Rarely do they easily and fully receive God’s 100% grace and forgiveness to move forward in life with joy and contentment and a focus on the next chapter in life.

Today, my a/c analogy helped me remember that I have in fact struggled with accepting God’s grace as well, and it wasn’t until I healed from my abortion ten years ago that I was able to begin to more easily forgive other people in my life for past traumatic experiences, as well as people in my life today for hurts and struggles. This has in turn led to my ability to more fully receive God’s forgiveness of myself. It’s been an ongoing cycle of growing grace in my life, both in receiving God’s grace and in extending grace to others.

All of our healing Bible studies and retreats incorporate the foundation of God’s grace. As we work through the issues and traumas at hand, it is this foundation that begins to set women and men free from the hold of those past hurts, and into the freedom which allows things like kindness, joy, delight, sweetness and loveliness to exist, flavors of grace you might say, sometimes even for the first time. These new experiences begin to deepen their understanding of the levels and textures of God’s grace and also to recognize when it’s missing or improperly functioning, just as it’s written in Psalm 34:8, “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.”

I may not have known the full functioning power of God’s grace in the past, and I certainly didn’t recognize when it was “broken” or when I was broken. I’ve continually learned the power and force of the relief grace brings to my soul and those around me, and I tend to notice more quickly if I’m falling back to old tendencies of blaming myself or unforgiveness toward others in my heart. I can now make a quicker adjustment in my heart through a prayer and/or reflection on God’s Word, just like I made a quick adjustment to my car dashboard today. None of us will fully know the power behind God’s grace until we meet Him in heaven, but I’m thankful for the greater knowledge I’ve gained this past decade. It’s our passion at twentyTHREE61 to help others begin to learn about accepting grace as well as healing from their tremendous hurts.

“With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them.” Acts 4:33-34a

It’s our belief and prayer that the healing of one person has a ripple effect on those around them as well, and then the grace of God will extend and abound exponentially in our community.