In today’s second installment of the Burden of Better Book Club, Heather talks about how understanding grace cures comparison. In her book, The Burden of Better, Heather explores four different manifestations of grace in the daily life of the follower of Jesus. She also answers some of your questions about comparison and idealism (from the first Burden of Better Book Club Episode here.) Here’s what to expect from today’s show:

Heather tackles the following questions:

  • Did you experience any spiritual push back when you realized you were entrenched in this kind of sin?
  • Is it normal to feel overwhelmed with the scope of my discontent?

Heather explains four different types of grace:

  1. God’s saving grace.
  2. God’s sanctifying grace.
  3. God’s growing grace.
  4. God’s sustaining grace.

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Understanding Grace

Here is a partial transcript from the last half of today’s show about understanding grace:

Section 2 of this book is called the grace-filled life – And in it, I talk about there being 4 different kinds of grace. There is saving grace, sanctifying grace, growing grace and sustaining grace.

If you’re like me – you sang Amazing Grace in church and maybe you only thought about grace in the context of Jesus dying on the cross to save you from going to Hell. But, as I explain through this section – a truer and deeper understanding of grace goes much deeper.

If we truly understood that God’s saving grace was so much more than saving us from hell after this life – I think we’d all live a little differently. You see the truth is God’s saving grace tells us that nothing, absolutely nothing, can separate us from his love. We are unconditionally loved and accepted after we receive Jesus as our savior. There is no one else on this earth who can love us this way. We’d like to think parents could but loving without any conditions is very difficult for most of us. So we have this crazy, completely reliable constant source of love and acceptance that should mean we never have to be afraid of what other people think – Truly – if we lived in our identities as women who are unconditionally loved and accepted by God – we’d never stress about what others think.

There’s more to saving grace than that even – in terms of speaking to our confidence issues and our body image issues – so I hope you’ll snag the book and at least read that chapter.

I also talk about sanctifying grace. This is our grace to become more like Jesus and less like ourselves – every day- God is gracious to sanctify us. Now, sometimes sanctification feels painful – because, like the reader question I answered – we see the depth of our sin and once we’ve seen it – we know we have to work on being different – we have to change. No one likes change. It’s uncomfortable. But, it’s a grace that God doesn’t leave us stuck in our sin issues – He unconditionally accepts and loves us -but then graciously holds our hands as we walk out of issues like body image issues or comparison issues. He shows us the idols we’ve been serving but as Romans says – it’s his KINDNESS that leads us to repentance. He doesn’t beat us over the head or shame us for our sin – he covers our guilt and shame and says, okay – now walk a new way.

The third kind of grace I talk about is Growing Grace  – This is the grace you have received when you realize that you were made on purpose and for a purpose. This is the grace where you get to figure out how and why you were made and see the beauty in God’s design for you and for your life. Honestly – one thing I see a lot is that women who are stuck in body image issues have no idea what their spiritual gifts are. They don’t know what they’re good at or what they have to offer the world beyond being pretty or having the body they think other people will appreciate or admire.  For me –  personally – I knew some of the ways I was gifted – I was using these gifts at work -but I was so caught up in fixing my body image in my free time that I didn’t have the extra capacity to use my gifts for God’s kingdom too. Once I started to do that – that’s when it became much easier to take my eyes off my thighs and to really believe and feel like I was made for more than weight loss.

The final kind of grace we explore is sustaining grace – This is the very real and present grace God gives us when our world is falling apart – when you lose someone close to you and you still know, maybe even in a more real way than you’ve ever felt or known – that God is right there with you. That’s a kind of grace. Can you even imagine how hard life would be without God’s sustaining grace?

This isn’t in the book but here is a weird example I’m thinking of that I think many of you will relate to. Are you ready for this? Do you know the reason why you feel a kind of “buzz” when you go on a diet or weight loss plan and start to really restrict calories? I always thought it was because I was eating healthier or eating less… but now I know that (unless you are bed fast), 1500 calories or less a day is probably not enough for your body if you’re over the age of 10 and moving at all. So, when you go on the crash diet. You follow the Optavia 1200 calories a day plan. You start to feel really really good at first. Do you know why that is? It’s because God created your body to hide the pain of starvation from you.

Isn’t that crazy? God actually designed your body in such a way that when you go from a regular amount of calories to an amount that feels like starvation – certain hormones would be released to mask from you the impact of that. To truly feel starvation is an absolutely horrible thing and so it’s God’s grace that he created our bodies to not feel the impact of it in the early days of calorie deprivation.

Now, it doesn’t stay that way. Eventually your body decides to take action so you won’t starve– whether that’s storing any calories you consume or putting other hormones into hyper drive to protect you. But when one of my dietician friends with a Master’s degree in body science explained this to me,I was in shock.

It’s not a feel good because I’m eating good buzz – it’s God’s sustaining grace because I couldn’t handle the feeling of actual starvation.

So there you have it! Four different kinds of grace operating in our lives today and everyday. The reason why I spell them out in the book is because I believe once we become more aware of all these little graces we’ve been given – we become less likely to compare ourselves to others or to question the ways God is working and moving in our lives. We become more able to trust him and our hearts fill with gratitude for what he has done – in big things and little things.

That’s what the next section of the book is about gratitude. We’ll talk about that at the end of April.

Until then, what questions do you have? What can I help clarify about these concepts for you? What do you think? Did you know there were so many different types of grace operating in your life everyday?