The Coach is In…
“I do not at all 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 – Part II
In Part I on Grace, I indicated that when I speak of grace, I am thinking of something we receive that we did not earn and did not deserve. I’m not certain that my definition is all encompassing for all of life’s circumstances but seems to work well for the grace we receive. In terms of the grace you give yourself, do you not give it because you don’t think you deserve it? How about the grace you give others? Do they deserve or have earned that grace?
I didn’t spend much time in Part 1 on the grace we give others. I’d like to explore that in this post. The story I told about my good friend and her terminally ill husband was intended as an illustration of the grace we don’t give ourselves. In a small way it is also an illustration of the grace we don’t give to others in each moment. What causes you, me, us to not extend grace to others?
Sometimes it is a matter that we think the other person doesn’t deserve it. They may have done something hurtful to us, or to a member of our family. We hold a grudge.
In this context I think of my relationship with my brother. He was four and a half years older. When we were kids, he was my hero. He could do everything better than me. Eventually, I came to be able to compete, and in some cases, beat him. I kept my brother on that pedestal into adulthood. When he didn’t live up to that image, I was mad at him. I carried that for a long time. What I came to see is that I wanted him to always be my hero. What I should have been doing is be willing to forgive him for who he wasn’t, just as I had learned to do with myself.
I was not willing to extend grace. What I came to learn is that grace is not something we necessarily deserve. That is why it is so powerful. When I, we, us are not willing to extend grace it hurts us more than the other person. If we become bitter, we are hurting ourselves and damaging our ability to be more open and extend more love. It can affect our ability to be in relationships with others.
In the case with my brother, it took me a long time to ‘forgive’ him for who he was. I was being unfair, but thought I was justified because of all the things my brother wasn’t. I was wrong. My brother and I were different people so it is unlikely we would have been closer. Yet, we might have had more quality time together before he died had I come to a better understanding about giving grace sooner.
It took me a while to connect that giving grace, particularly when I didn’t want to, was the way to becoming a ‘bigger person,’ to take the higher ground, to become a higher version of myself. To be more gracious in the moment. To do something that was ‘uncommon.’ It was that behavior that opened me up to being less judgmental. In a world full of vengeance, being more grace-full seemed like a better contribution, more consistent with who I wanted to become.
During my ‘thinking’ time I was looking for integration as to how to practice grace more in my life. I ran across “10 Ways to Practice Grace in Your Daily Life” by Elisha Beach as part of the Mom Forum (empowering women in motherhood). I appreciate her contribution. Here are the ten practices:
1. Start with yourself. Choosing to treat yourself with kindness and goodwill is the greatest gift you can give yourself. What I find in my coaching practice is that far too many of us deplete our energy by tearing ourselves down. Practicing more grace is a way to maintain or restore our energy.
2. Learn to let go. There is a lot in our lives we can’t control. Learning to let go of the things we can’t control/change is an act of goodwill many of us need. So true.
3. Practice gratitude. If you start from a place of thankfulness, it is much easier to act with grace.
4. Forgive. Holding on to bitterness or anger doesn’t serve anyone. Being able to forgive allows you to move on. It allows you to let go of your anger or malice and not waste your energy.
5. Apologize. Accepting responsibility for your actions and genuinely apologizing allows all parties to move on.
6. Be mindful. Be conscious of how you move through your life each day. Try to be attuned to your feelings, your environment, and those you interact with but without judgment. Not easy to do, but practicing will allow you to get to a better space over time.
7. Speak kindly. Kind words go a long way in improving our interactions with others.
8. Have compassion. We don’t know what people are experiencing. Speaking with compassion extends goodwill to those around you. It will then be more likely that you will be extended goodwill in return. From my perspective, we, those around us, and the world could all use more compassion.
9. Accept people for who they are. People are who they are. You are not likely to change them. Acceptance of who someone is allows you to make a better choice about how you will interact with them moving forward.
10. Have a sense of humor. We often take life and ourselves too seriously. Everything is not a dire occurrence. Sometimes a good laugh will do you better than a good cry.
I have found that self-awareness and a desire to improve how we interact with others is a good start in implementing greater goodwill with others. It’s not easy, but grace is a key linchpin in experiencing and practicing greater love in our lives, in our communities, and beyond.
Grandma was right, “Here but by the grace of God go I.”
Toward a better you…
“Grace means that all of your mistakes now serve a purpose instead of serving shame.”