Synonyms: goodwill, generosity, kindness, favour, regard
For those of us raised in religious homes, grace is a word that is loaded. It is tied to the very nature of God. It is an act of love. It cannot be earned. It is the ultimate act of kindness.
For others, grace may bring to mind smooth movements or a certain softness.
In truth, grace is far more complex than either of those concepts can cover. And since I love words and complexity…it was a perfect choice for one of my core values. It’s compassion and deep respect for the lives of others is why it so deeply appeals to me as a way of viewing difficult times and hard choices.
A few key things about grace…
- To offer grace I must see myself honestly. It requires the ability to admit my own imperfections, misunderstandings, and need for others to assume the best. Grace assumes good intention and believes in the goodness of the other
- Grace is nearly impossible to offer another if I haven’t offered it to myself. This has been a lifelong lesson for me. From an early age I demanded more of myself than was possible. I still sometimes beat myself up when I don’t see a problem or a failure coming around the bend. I have had to learn to extend grace to myself. Forgive myself, treat myself with a gentle regard, and only when I do so, can I extend grace to others
- Grace requires incredible strength. Anyone who has extended grace when they are hurt, victimized, or grieving understands that there is no weakness in grace. Choosing to regard the other with dignity and respect when they haven’t earned it, is a powerful demonstration of grace
- Grace does not disregard boundaries. Instead it offers you the space within your boundaries to be open to new information while responding with acceptance and kindness
Grace allows me to accept myself and others for who they are. In doing so, I am able to see things with clarity, compassion, and gratitude. Grace allows me to let go of things I cannot control…something that I have always found very hard as I’d like to control EVERYTHING. Grace is what helps me to loosen my grip on control, on needing to be “the boss”, on sitting in failure or loss for too long.
Grace is NOT forgiveness.
Grace is NOT justice.
Grace does NOT try to force change.
And still grace is the value that makes room for change & hope. For me. For you. For humanity.