In this day and age, many people understand the idea of grace only in terms of late payments on bills. But grace is much larger, much broader in scope than that. It reaches out and touches us where we live.
Grace does not come naturally to humans — it really needs to be both taught to and exemplified for one another and our children. It takes time to learn and lots of practice, especially if it is learned as an adult rather than as a child. But when we put forth the effort to live a life of grace, we change things: Our world gets a little bit better; we get better. Life is one step closer to perfect balance.
What is grace, anyway? 1) It is the giving and receiving of good that is really undeserved; 2) It is the recognition of good in all things so that we respond with and both inwardly and outwardly express an attitude of gratitude, of contented pleasure, of praise to the source of good which or whom has provided the good in one’s life, and awe of God, of the universe (the creation of God), and of others (ideally, the representatives of God), all of whom help shape us everyday.
Let me show you three ways to learn and practice grace everyday, so that you can achieve a greater level of balanced living:
I. Living in God’s grace. You might believe yourself to be an atheist or even an agnostic. you might even blame God for some unspeakable tragedy in your life. But I’ll bet you believe in grace. Grace is just one form of love. And God is the essence of love. If you believe in grace, you have at least some connection with God, whether you believe in Him or not. He believes in you. God does not give or allow in us all of the wrath and turmoil that we really deserve. He holds that back in favor of his blessing, which he gives to equip us to accomplish our purpose and to fulfill our destiny. God is not the villain many make him out to be. Even your greatest pain was not his idea nor was it his fault. He’s all about grace and love.
But why do all of these bad things happen in the world if God is so loving, gracious, and powerful to stop them? Man makes choices contrary to God’s will everyday. It might have been someone else’s poor choice that brought about your suffering and pain. That doesn’t mean he wanted it to happen. But God uses those times to invite you to rely on him and to teach you how to better love. If we never experience some pain in our lives, we can’t ever grow or really comprehend what it is to truly love. Living in God’s grace is being able to see all of the good that is in light of all the bad that could be.
II. Extending grace to others. Just as God gives us grace, by his example we should extend grace to others. You may believe you are justified in taking someone to court or getting back at them for wronging you in some way. You might have worse things in mind. But most of the time, those aren’t the answers that will result in your peace and balance. Grace is the best way.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t stand up for yourself. You are not a doormat to be trampled on constantly. But grace can take the starch out of a sticky situation and can bring about conviction of wrong in the heart of the wrongdoer. There is also some satisfaction knowing that we can step out of the situation as it is and let God handle things in his way and in his timing, both of which are perfect. Extending grace to others may be just what someone needs to turn their life around and find balance!
Living in God’s grace is being able to see all of the good that is in light of all the bad that could be.
III. Walking in our own grace. Be good to yourself. When was the last time you did that? Get off of your own back. Learn how to love yourself in an appropriate way by giving yourself some slack — some grace. When you do that, you learn how to extend grace to others. Grace can also include simple personal elegance and refinement. It is a way of proper, civilized behavior, which further exemplifies God’s grace in one’s life. Think of how we could change the world if in no other way than by living in God’s grace, living to give God’s grace to others, and living as an example of God’s grace so our society might be transformed into something wonderful!
I’m grateful for you. Even if I don’t know you and you’re reading this on the other side of the planet, I’m grateful for you. I know the good in you, even if you don’t realize it yourself. If you are hurting today, I’m so sorry you’ve experienced that kind of pain because of another person’s poor choices enacted against you. But I’m also thankful that there is an awesome God that has equipped and called me to help you. I want to help you find the peace, harmony (i.e., life balance) and joy you’ve been looking for. I want to help you heal from the pain of the past and make new, good, and exciting choices that will lead to a glorious future. There is grace out there with your name on it!
Keep practicing. It’s all part of the power of becoming.