The Perfect Gift of Grace
By Juliet Cáceres, Psy.D., CEDS | May 6, 2020 | Leave a Comment 💬
This article was published by The American Association of Christian Counselors
I love to search for the perfect gift. It does not need to be expensive. It simply gives me joy to find something that is uniquely fitting for someone. I get so excited to give the gift just to see their expression of surprise and delight. I often hope I’ll hear, “Oh my! How did you know?” or, “It’s so perfect, and I LOVE it!” These moments bring me a sense of happiness and I feel connected in a special way when a simple gesture is recognized and valued. The concept of grace in the Bible is understood to be the unmerited favor of God. Truly, every breath is a gift we cannot earn. However, there are many times when we receive a special grace or gift—a complete upgrade in the unmerited favor of God. Initially, we are surprised and thrilled as we benefit from the unexpected gift. Yet, many people also struggle to fully embrace these experiences without feelings of guilt and shame. They may experience lingering thoughts of unworthiness and feel undeserving. This can lead to compensating for the special grace by giving back or over-performing in other areas in an unconscious effort to minimize these negative feelings.
Denying the vulnerability of connecting with our needs and desires, or engaging the pride of needing to feel independent, robs us of fully enjoying the gifts of grace God finds for us. Those who have experienced trauma especially struggle with enduring feelings of internalized shame and unworthiness. They share feeling ashamed of receiving the special gift of grace given to them often from family and friends who love them.
Juliet Cáceres, Psy.D., CEDS, is a licensed clinical psychologist and certified eating disorder specialist. She serves as the Director of Spiritual Care at Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center near Chicago. Dr. Cáceres provides leadership and direction for the clinical integration of spirituality into all aspects of programming as core to recovery and wholeness. She also supervises and trains on the clinical integration of spirituality for clinical staff working in the Christian program at Timberline Knolls.