Many of my friends are choosing their words for the year. Although I don’t usually follow suit, one word has surfaced. This word and its meaning once stymied me because I could not find a practical way to utilize it.
But as I have searched for a workable definition, the practice and discipline of using this word has moved front and center.
I believe this word is important to me – especially in 2017 – because of what happened in 2016. As a Christian, I was appalled at the vitriol I read on social media and how followers of Christ used their freedom of speech as a weapon.
Certainly, we should stand up for what we believe, but to attack other human beings – creations of God – just because they believe differently? Sheesh!
They will know we are Christians by our love.
So my word for the year addresses my traumatized soul and also gives me a higher bar to attain. The word is GRACE.
I know the Sunday School definition for grace: God’s Riches at Christ’s Expense. But I have searched for the practical version, a way to actually BE a Christian rather than just writing and/or posting my beliefs – hoping to stay away from the ugliness and cruelty witnessed last year.
The definition I have settled on is, “Grace is the disposition to or an act or instance of kindness, courtesy or clemency.”
To live with a focus on kindness, to show grace to the checker at Target who has been on her feet for eight hours and the guy in front of me is yelling at her because his coupon expired.
To see the tears threatening to spill over and when it is my turn, to briefly touch her hand and say, “I’m sorry about what just happened. I think you’re doing a great job.”
To park in the lot at Wal-Mart and instead of rushing inside to get my stuff, to show grace-filled courtesy to the elderly woman, lift her trunk and help her empty the cart – then offer to take her cart inside so she doesn’t have to walk all that way on a gimpy leg.
To realize none of us act as we should every single day and give grace when someone barks an insult or uses only one finger to wave at me in traffic.
To be grateful for my freedoms yet allow with grace for the differences among us as we exercise those freedoms.
And how does grace look if I turn it inward? What are the practical ways I can give myself grace in this new year?
To realize I am an achiever, yet my projects are not more important than my health. To rest even if I’m not sleepy.
To allow myself breaks to take a long walk, to sit on the deck and marvel at the colors of the blue jay at my feeder.
To realize I gain five pounds every winter as I hibernate from the cold and give myself grace because I always lose those same pounds in the spring.
To admit the truth about the aging process – it DOES happen so I need to give myself grace and not hate the changes morphing me into a visual of my ancestors. After all, each year brings me closer to heaven where age will not matter.
To realize my garden cannot look like the magazine covers, no matter how hard I work. To give myself grace and let some of the plots grow over with natural grasses and even weeds. This graceful strategy will give me more time to write, reflect and pray.
To believe that grace also leads to gracefulness – a beautiful visual of a ballerina floating across the stage. Can I float through 2017 with a new version of gracefulness, slowing down and just being myself?
In her book, “Walking on Water,” Madeleine L’Engle writes exactly what I want to embrace. “…To take time away from busyness, time to BE. To take BEING time – something we all need for our spiritual health. Slow me down, Lord. When I am constantly running, there is no time for being. When there is no time for being, there is no time for listening.”
So as I float through 2017, my goal is to show kindness, to offer courtesy and to fight for clemency – to allow for the differences among us and love in spite of them.
Hope calls me to be more grace-filled and graceful in the next twelve months. Will you join me?
©2017 RJ Thesman, Author of the Reverend G Trilogy http://amzn.to/1rXlCyh