• Lisa Blair Fratzke

The trouble with grace is...

Updated: Oct 30, 2019


Ever since I was a little girl, my dad has said: “working out will give you mind powers beyond that of mortal man.” True story. As you can see, my family has a flare for the dramatic.

I started working out at the ripe old age of 12 when I gave up soccer for an after-school life of musical theater. I would go to the recreation center by my house on weekends with my sister or dad. I started off slow with the stationary bike, and watched sitcoms on the TV screens. It was a dream.

Then I graduated to lap swimming and running.

I kept it up in high school and joined a gym by my college. I watched Obama get elected with my running shoes hitting the rubber of the treadmill. I eagerly awaited text messages from guys I should never have been crushing on. I probably also ignored some texts from guys I should have paid attention to.

Needless to say, working out has been a constant in my life.

I was at LA Fitness at 6 a.m. in the morning when I walked by the spin class and heard the instructor say “Give yourself some grace. Some room to grow.”

It was a profound thought to have before sunrise.

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“What makes church work?” is the question we tossed around the fire pit with a glass of whiskey in our hands. This is how my friends and I party on a Saturday night.

“Grace,” my friend said. Practicing grace with ourselves and with each other. The church needs to show grace. Grace is one of those words that we stitch on pillows and give to little girls with pigtails. When it comes to giving the concept in life, we often think of eloquence and ballerinas and soft spoken words at twilight.

Grace is not something to tiptoe around. At its core, it’s a pretty radical concept.

According to my turquoise New Adventure Bible that I’ve had since third grade, Grace is “an undeserved favor or gift, the undeserved forgiveness, kindness and mercy that God gives us.”

The very idea that we can’t earn grace is what makes the idea so dangerous. Think about it. If you can’t earn it… we can’t control it. It is out of our hands.

And if it’s out of our hands, it’s something we can lose.

Is your stomach turning over in circles yet?

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Maybe grace is such a foreign concept because I have such a hard time giving it to myself.

I think that I do. I have a list of things that are OK to mess up. It's okay to fail creatively, and be clumsy sometimes and not pronounce words correctly. That’s okay. But, it’s not okay to do any less than my best. To admit that I am limited. To ask for help. To show the places within me that are unfinished.

It’s not okay to admit the I don’t have all the answers. That there are problems that I don’t know how to fix. That there are problems that I know how to fix, and I choose not to.

I can tell you all the ways I could have done better today, and I think I know grace because I dish it out to others like some sort of dessert I brought to a party.

The truth is that grace isn’t just something we give. It’s something we accept.  I still have so much to learn when it comes to giving and receiving grace. I'm still learning how to accept the good and the bad that are beyond my control.  Like working out, it isn't easy, at least not at first. As the spin instructor would say: We just need to give ourselves some grace, some room to grow.

© 2020 by Lisa Fratzke. All rights reserved.