“I do not understand the mystery of Grace – only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us.” ~ Anne Lamott
Grace—like so many other things in life we do—is a choice. A choice to be given deliberately. And yet what makes Grace Grace, is when it is received it is the ultimate blessing we haven’t earned. However, when we choose to accept it as a continuous blessing, we find ourselves fueled with the desire to bestow the same blessing to others.
The incredibly simple truth is that Grace can be given away for free to all whom we come into contact. The power of Grace is that it gains in strength when dispensed to those whom we’d prefer to judge and hold a grudge against. Grace is the ultimate unselfish act of love.
According to the Oxford Dictionary, Grace is “courteous goodwill.” Breaking that definition down a little further is to recognize Grace as a polite, respectful or kind gesture that’s helpful, compassionate and unselfish. According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary Grace is “unmerited divine assistance given to humans for their regeneration or sanctification.” … it is the ultimate gift from God. A gift that I consciously and humbly appreciate and give thanks for daily. For me as a mere mortal, it is the ultimate humanitarian act of rising above the fray; not out of arrogance or superiority, but as a reflex of humility, empathy and gratitude of the Grace I continue to receive.
Grace is illusive. One can’t buy it. One can’t acquire it through good deeds or random acts of kindness. One can’t earn it. And almost like magic you can’t use Grace as a chip to bargain with or it will disappear. Grace is not easily explained but soulfully understood. It’s like a magnet that snaps with a powerful hold when an overwhelming positive comes into contact with a strong negative force.
In a letter to fellow writer F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway famously describes courage as “Grace under pressure.” Imagine that, when things are toughest, the courageous thing to do is to act in a manner of compassionate goodheartedness … without any expectation of reciprocity. I have always felt that courage is taking a step toward a desired goal without any guarantee of a result. When showing Grace towards another, the only goal is a purifying of the heart and replenishing of our essence, which is Love.
“Grace is the voice that calls us to change and then gives us the power to pull it off.” ~ Max Lucado
So how do we apply Grace in our lives? It starts with maintaining composure.
Grace requires honesty without the insults. Grace requires generosity of our heart without judgement. There’s a thoughtfulness that lives in harmony with Grace. It’s an act that requires intentional consideration that speaks to the human spirit. Not because of any expectation of returned goodwill, but simply because it’s the right thing to do.
From our first engagement with others to our exit, Grace can be applied throughout the entire process. Put together as a package … Grace enters the engagement with confidence. It listens with intent without formulating opinions. It engages with compassionate honesty. It confides with sincerity and gives with generosity. Grace remains faithful regardless of how it is received. Grace exits without fanfare.
I can think of no greater gift to receive or bestow than Grace. To me Grace is the overarching most important gift we’ve been given, and how we act towards others is the byproduct of our conscious gratitude for that blessing. As we enter the heart of the holiday season with altered family traditions, frayed nerves and precarious plans Grace is an excellent default to lean on. After all, Grace is love… and I can think of no better way to welcome 2021 than embracing all that is GRACE.