Grace or Discipline

by Natalie Lynn Borton

Grace or discipline–which do you need? Lately I’ve realized that there are different seasons for each, and it always balances out.

If you’ve heard my story, you know that for most of my life I was a Type A perfectionist. I was a good girl who did (almost) everything right–I went to church every week, prayed every night, studied hard, went to college, ate healthy and exercised often. I followed all of the rules because it just seemed to be the way I was wired.

But somewhere along the line, I realized that by following all of the rules I was doing something wrong. The more I grew in my faith and understood the God of Grace, I realized that I refused to fully submit myself to His love. By following rules and living a (unhealthily) disciplined life, I was missing out on the fullness of the relationship with God that I’d been trying to cultivate.

In time, I surrendered. I let myself make mistakes. I learned to love and to be loved. I ate foods that were once considered “unsafe,” and I abandoned my habitual gym habit. Self-discipline ruled my life and shaped my world, but in order to grow I needed to abandon it and trade it in for grace.

Though grace was what I needed, I eventually got lost in it, using grace as license to live as I pleased and not care for my body. Freedom turned into bondage. I felt enslaved to my whims and found it impossible to say no to any and all of my desires.

I finally see that I’m in a season of discipline and if I’m really honest, it scares me a bit. I fear the unforgiving perfectionism of my past and the possibility of turning Godly obedience into rigid self-discipline. But fear is no reason to avoid what’s needed. Ultimately we need to trust that whatever season we’re in, God leads us lovingly and we experience His freedom in both.

For my whole life I needed grace, and for the past few years (and now still) I’ve needed discipline. They are two sides of the same coin, always working hand in hand to refine and sanctify us.

Which season are you in, grace or discipline?

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