To get grace, you have to give grace. This statement jumped at me this morning while I was working out. In the moment it was simply a fleeting thought but it seemed to follow me around the rest of the morning, like a broken record playing over and over in my mind. I usually take that as a sign that I’m supposed to hit the pause button and spend some time reflecting. Initially it seems like a basic sentiment but it occurred to me that not everyone defines grace the same as me, for that matter, do I really know what my own definition of grace is? I know what the Bible says about grace. But what does it mean in everyday life, in relationships with others?
When I think about grace in relationships some of the first things that come to mind is that grace doesn’t keep score or grudges. It means being able to recognize the imperfections in others, forgiving even when our stubbornness kicks and screams like a child not getting his/her way. Grace can be found when we are able to stop thinking about only our needs and consider someone else’s. The simple words “I’m sorry” can go a long way in extending and receiving grace with loved ones. Feeling frustrated or irritated with loved ones happens, people make mistakes, life is busier than ever, there are days when keeping it all together feels like a huge undertaking and our spouse takes the brunt of it, we are all so far from perfect in this world. But this is another one of those times when I am compelled to share the sometimes overlooked detail that relationships are not one sided, they are multi-sided, a combination of more than one persons feelings, emotions, ideas, experiences, wants, needs, expectations…relationships are living breathing systems that are constantly changing and that change requires a great deal of flexibility, self-reflection, love, forgiveness, compassion, empathy, laughter, desire- grace.
There’s this bigger picture around grace that involves accountability. When we’re caught up in a moment, distracted by a crisis or dealing with overwhelming emotions it is hard to see a bigger picture, usually those moments are when we are focused with a narrow view of what is immediately in front of us but what happens when you are able to take a step backwards out of that frame of mind and scan the landscape of your relationships. How good have you been at extending grace to others, whether they deserve it or not in your mind? I know it’s not an easy task but in those moments when it feels like it is not being extended to us, when we so desperately need it, that’s when we should hold ourselves accountable and answer that question- have my actions and reactions over time shown grace to others when they have needed it?
To receive grace, we must be willing to offer grace.