As a parent there are funny teaching moments that happen as your children grow up. The weird awkward ones that for me usually stem from well versed social norms that my children had not yet embraced or even understood. For example, teachable moments like where we don’t blatantly call someone fat. Yes, I believe, all of my children have done this. The intentions are never full of malice or harm. But still what person likes to hear a tiny toddler say of them, “Momma, that person is fat.” Or worse yet when they point the finger back at you and say, “Momma, why is your skin jiggly?” (I speak not from experience…yeah right).
How many present days (aka birthdays, Christmas and the like) did you watch in horror as your child opened a gift they either did not like or had already received? It is as if you were watching it in slow motion and praying to everything holy that what is on their face is not being read or worst yet….SAID. But it does get said and you sit back shielding yourself from the judgmental light that is now being bestowed upon your head.
These moments provide great parental passage into the teaching of grace but grace, the word, to define and to talk about and make more tactile is hard. What exactly is grace? Is it how we deal with things? Is it how we speak? Is it a thing? Is it how we act? A verb…grace? Or a noun…Grace? I imagine each person has to define grace by how they believe and use it’s powers. For me, it certainly has it roots in religion and spirituality but it is also much more. It is a verb. It is an action that one chooses to impart into their daily dealings. And more than anything in my daily life it is my filter. It is the way by which I try and think before I speak. That certainly does not mean that I do so all the time. Most of the time when I react without thinking I found I have left my grace at home.
But teaching children to have grace seems a much easier task and really the audience is more forgiving right? What happens when we are an adult and we say something, maybe even unintentionally, that comes out and leaves those in it’s path hurt or worse mad? My biggest struggle is having grace when that happens to me. When people say intentionally cruel things or speak without thinking but I then become required to apply some sort of grace to the situation I find myself irritated. Why can I not just revert back to those toddler ways pretend like I didn’t know it was not okay to be an jerk back to them the way they were an jerk to me?
I guess that is the funny thing about grace. You have to practice it to have it. So one could surmise that in order to have grace it requires at least a meager amount of forgiveness or forgetfulness. Both of which I am terrible at. I don’t forgive easily and really when it comes to hurt I don’t forget either. Somehow grace wins in the end for me. But mostly because I don’t like confrontation. I am not afraid to stand up for what I believe to be right and true but would I argue that I am graceful? Not at all but I think the word graceful and full of grace are very different. When I can flip on that ‘grace filter’ I think that makes me more forgiving because it gives me time that normally a reaction in the moment without grace will not.
Therefore, as I try and decipher grace’s illusive meaning and apply it’s practicality to myself I can see that while I might not inhabit Grace, I certainly have sustained it in action. Maybe not always in beauty but certainly in kindness. The idea that grace is equated with beauty I believe lies in the principles of forgiveness and fortitude. Both actions of beauty and kindness at work.
As you contemplate why this post? Why today? As with most moments in anyone’s life that garner attention, people say things without thinking. Think of that portly woman being asked, “How far along are you?” Or “at least it is not cancer” to the woman who just had surgery or the girl who has been dealing with cancer and cancer threats for four years and someone sentimentally tells her, “Feel better soon” as if chicken noodle soup and a days rest will put cancer fears back to bed. All comments meant with what I hope to be masked in kindness just come across as jerky. I had a few. I have heard a few my friends have received them. It got me thinking how great this “grace filter” is sometimes. (Click on pictures for credits)