Let’s talk about Grace.
Not the kind you say before you eat, which looks different from household to household. In my family, I’ve heard everything from long, thank-you-God monologues to short, “…Good God let’s eat” ditties, to literally “Grace”, to formal word-for-word recitations of religious prayers.
Let’s talk about the other kind of Grace. The kind of grace that got you out of that speeding ticket, got your wife to forgive you last night, and got your kid her driving privileges back. It’s something we tend to appreciate when extended in our own direction, but something we tend to hold back when someone else is deserving of the action.
That’s what Grace is, an action. Like love, grace is a verb that one must practice and practice in order to understand it, properly give it, and even appreciate it. Because grace, like forgiveness, is meant more for our own well-being than the recipient. To a certain point, the grace we hold back is teaching the other person a lesson: you’ve hurt me, you need to reflect on this, there’s a lesson to be learned. But once a person has truly shown remorse and has genuinely apologized, a threshold has been passed and the ball is in the court of the ‘defender’. To make the offender gravel in order to prove worthiness of grace is both incredibly demeaning and hypocritical, if only because the defender has been shown grace before, as well.
Yes, grace is messy. It is not cut-and-dry, it doesn’t work the same from heart to heart, and it can cause strife as much as it can cause peace. Grace is inherently boundary-less, there is no structure. Because it’s the opposite of law, there is no one way in which to administer it. It is limitless and it stands on its own. There is only grace. There is no finite black-and-white, only the gray area of grace. It doesn’t apologize, it just gives. And it takes on a life of its own.
But that life that Grace takes on is one that can transform a heart, a situation, a relationship. From the mild to moderate offense to the deeply hurtful, extending and accepting Grace has the ability to foster the kind of life-giving life we all long for.
It’s no fun being hurt, especially by someone we care about. And please understand I am not advocating for passiveness and complacency when you’ve been deeply wounded, especially if it’s an abusive situation. I’m advocating for Grace – daily, life-giving extensions of grace that forgive others of their shortcomings, release us from the snare of anger, and let us live more wholeheartedly with one another. So we can enjoy our days, set an example for our children, and live a life that is truly well-lived.