Amazing Grace, How Sweet The Sound

“Life is grace. Sleep is forgiveness. The night absolves. Darkness wipes the slate clean, not spotless to be sure, but clean enough for another day’s chalking.”
Frederick Buechner, The Alphabet of Grace

I can be like a bull in a china shop. Well, I hope it is more, I used to be like a bull in a china shop. I’ve never been described as graceful and for most of my life I thought that meant I was strong. I no longer believe this to be true. I think the real courage comes from living with grace.

The concept of grace has been heavy on my mind for a few days. Likely, because of the heightened contempt perpetrated by our political system and media outlets. The world seemed to be saturated in fear and anger. This irritation is seeping into the cracks of daily life. I’m seeing greater defensiveness, increased stress, and more contempt in my daily practice. We are not immune to the acrimony that surrounds us.

When a concept like grace comes to me, I spend a lot of time considering the idea and reading what others think about it. When it came to grace there were no concrete definitions available. I desperately wanted someone to describe to me what it meant to live with grace. With every quote and every writing it felt like the definition was just out of reach.

“You are so weak. Give up to grace.
The ocean takes care of each wave till it gets to shore.
You need more help than you know.”
Rumi, The Essential Rumi

I understand that many faith systems use grace in their teachings but under my review and consideration the concept still lacked concrete description. What does it mean when God is gracious? How do we impart grace? There were no detailed interventions in what I could find.

I suppose grace, like love, like compassion, is a feeling that is simply meant to be felt. But, grace is also to be shared. I believe, a gracious heart is forgiving heart. And, I think we are always working on forgiving others and forgiving ourselves. Acting with grace, acknowledges that we are not perfect but that we are always trying to do the best we can and that is enough.

“Grace doesn’t depend on suffering to exist, but where there is suffering you will find grace in many facets and colors.”
Wm. Paul Young, The Shack

I think that there was a time in my life where I felt like I needed to knock things over and attack others to get where I needed to go. I think I felt defensive and weak. I felt like if I exposed my vulnerabilities, I would be exploited or attacked. Through experience, I’ve learned that the opposite is true. It is best to approach life with a patience and softness. I don’t have to defend myself or argue my point.

Truthfully, protecting my ego from perceived attacks is an exhausting way to live life. My ego is just fine on a shelf over there somewhere. It has no place in my interactions with others or rattling off self-judgement in my own head.

The best I could do for a definition was this: Grace feels like continuous acts of forgiveness, soaked in compassion, and wrapped with love and sprinkled with patience. Grace, is a gift I can give to myself and in doing so I can share with others.

How would you define Grace?

“Gifts of grace come to all of us. But we must be ready to see and willing to receive these gifts. It will require a kind of sacrifice, the sacrifice of believing that, however painful our losses, life can still be good — good in a different way then before, but nevertheless good. I will never recover from my loss and I will never got over missing the ones I lost. But I still cherish life. . . . I will always want the ones I lost back again. I long for them with all my soul. But I still celebrate the life I have found because they are gone. I have lost, but I have also gained. I lost the world I loved, but I gained a deeper awareness of grace. That grace has enabled me to clarify my purpose in life and rediscover the wonder of the present moment.”
Gerald L. Sittser, A Grace Disguised: How the Soul Grows through Loss

 

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