I'm beginning to wonder if having an "all or nothing" attitude is actually the opposite of walking in grace.
You're either one way, or you're another. I'm an awesome mom, or I'm seriously the worst because I had a crabby few hours and yelled at my 3-year-old again. I'm going to exercise EVERY DAY! or, I'll just watch another episode of Netflix and lay on my couch because I just never exercise and I'll probably never change. (Imagine me saying the italicized part in a super dramatic voice, with my hands flinging around in the air.) And when it comes to making goals -- I tend to either a) aim really high, try it, fail, and then scrap it all, or b) I quit before I even start, because my (self-imposed) standards are too high and even the idea of failure makes me feel like a failure.
You're welcome for the peek inside my neurotic brain. Brian, you win for the husband of the century.
"All or nothing" leaves no room for error. If you're on the "all" side - where you've experienced a little victory in your life or you're hopeful about something new - "all or nothing" leads you to the frantic charade of keeping those plates spinning, because God forbid you can't keep that good thing going. And if you're on the "nothing" side, well, you should probably just stay there because you're going to screw it up again.
Do you see how enslaving this attitude can be? We can't truly live this way. We may try new things, but with a constant fear of "what if I fail?" We might recite to ourselves that "God's mercies are new every morning," but then we end counting the minutes until we (even minorly) blow it, and then it's all "See, self?!"
I'm starting to learn that grace is the antidote to "all or nothing."
Romans 5:8 says ,"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." We were loved at our worst. I'd say then, that we're pretty safe to fail.
Because of grace, I am free to fail and I am free to succeed. I can fail because there's no need to earn my way back to being in God's good graces; I'm still there. I've always been there. And I can succeed, because my identity isn't in jeopardy either way; I'm loved by God and my actions have never changed that.
When I walk in grace, I'm not settling for less; actually, I'm freeing myself up for more. More joy, more life. More truly experiencing, and hopefully handing out to others, the freedom that comes with being loved by an unfailing God. And actually, with grace, I now feel totally free to shoot for the stars. I can ask God for His power in me to be all that He created me to be, as a wife and a mom, a friend, and all the other dreams and roles that He's given me. Because with grace, if I stumble, I can learn and get back up - instead of just throwing in the towel, which is where "all or nothing" usually leaves me. Grace compels us to be who God really made us to be, because there's no fear in being perfectly loved. Grace gets us to stand back up after we fall. Grace says, "You don't have to be an expert! Just move forward in the power of Christ." Grace takes the sting out of weakness, because the standard of perfection has already been fulfilled by Christ.
Oh how glad I am that we don't have to be slaves to "all or nothing," because of the every day, every minute reality of God's steadfast grace.