What is Grace, and How Can We Find It and Use It?
“Grace is an ability to give as well as to receive and be thankful.”― C. JoyBell C.
The word “grace” has long carried strong religious connotations. However, much like its cousins “faith” and “harmony,” it has more to do with a connection with the universe and humankind than with a singular conception of God.
Grace is the powerful force carried by both humans and the karmic flow of life events that gives us not what we deserve, but what we need.
Grace is the opposite of the “eye for an eye” mentality, the merciful force that balances the harsh edge of karmic justice. Grace is the force that allows us to forgive ourselves and our loved ones. It has the strength to repair broken relationships, and even broken people.
In essence, grace is the thing that allows us to outgrow our past and become better people.
Grace allows addicts to find sobriety. It gifts mothers with the children they needed, rather than those they had hoped for or felt they deserved. Grace touches every part of an adoption story, from a young mother who is not yet ready to raise a child to the grateful parents who have been desperately longing for one.
On a smaller scale, grace can be a stranger who fills your parking meter or helps you change a tire by the side of the road. It can be a job interviewer who was running just five minutes later than you were. Grace shows up in our lives nearly every day.
Grace is not the thing that we earn or deserve. It’s the thing that we didn’t – and couldn’t – have ever asked for, and received anyway.
Despite its soft image, however, grace is not some sort of “get out of jail free” card. Grace carries with it a sense of responsibility. When we find ourselves the recipients of grace, it becomes our job to pass the favor forward. In helping us along our own path, grace gives us the resources to give to others. As Criss Jami wrote, “The reality of loving God is loving him like he’s a Superhero who actually saved you from stuff rather than a Santa Claus who merely gave you some stuff.”
In the larger picture of mankind, isn’t this such a powerful force?
The tricky thing about grace, however, is it rarely shows up in ways that we expect.
Grace can manifest in a slow driver making us late for work, and unwittingly causing us to miss a deadly accident. It can be a college rejection letter that ultimately sends us on a life changing year of service work. Sometimes we don’t recognize grace for the gift that it is. After all, as human beings, we are usually missing the whole picture.
Even in these situations, however, grace is with us. “When life doesn’t meet your expectations,” wrote Patricia Briggs, “it is important to take it with grace.”
But where can we find it?
When we discover that we are talented at something – music, art, science, caring for others – we are seeing grace manifest in our lives. Our talents are gifts that were given to us. We did not earn them. Often, in our self-centered and competitive society, we forget this simple fact. We may be the ones who nurture our talents, but we did not plant the seed in our own right. Something greater is responsible for that piece of work.
It is our responsibility not to take credit for our intellectual, creative, or athletic gifts, but to nurture them and put them to good use. We are not the ones who put the game of kindness into motion. It is simply our job to keep the ball rolling.