Personal Thoughts to Help Bring Grace Into Your Life

“Grace has to be the loveliest word in the English language. It embodies almost every attractive quality we hope to find in others. Grace is a gift of the humble to the humiliated. Grace acknowledges the ugliness of wrongdoing by choosing to see beyond it. Grace accepts a person as someone worthy of kindness despite whatever grime or hard-shell casing keeps him/her separated from the rest of the world. Grace is a gift of tender mercy when it makes the least sense.” –Charles R. Swindoll

I remember the start of any school year and a teacher telling our class, “Today you all have an “A”. It is up to you to lose it.”

You didn’t earn the “A”, you may not even feel like you deserve the “A” but you have it and it is precious.

We are born. We didn’t deserve birth, we didn’t earn the right to be born, it wasn’t “our turn” but somehow we are here and we have an unknown amount of time to use what we have been given, life, to the best of our abilities. The grace of life is like the universe saying: “Here is your life. You might never have been, but you are because the party wouldn’t be the same without you.” –Frederick Buechner

We were given DNA passed down to us from eons of generations and yet there is one thing we are all given at birth that no one can take away; Grace.

 “Life is grace. Sleep is forgiveness. The night absolves. Darkness wipes the slate clean, not spotless to be sure, but clean enough for another day’s chalking.” –Frederick Buechner, The Alphabet of Grace

I sometimes look forward to sleeping simply because I have a need to put this day to an end and to give myself time to restore hope for tomorrow. Every day I am given is like the universe saying, “Here is another day to make the most of you, for yourself as well as for others.” Every morning is like a rebirth into a life I was not deserving of. The awe of that thought is humbling.

To be sure, there will always be a need for grace and therefore also for gratitude. Gratitude and grace go hand in hand. Grace whispers breath into my soul and gratitude takes that breath and turns it into words and expressions and gifts to be given. “Grace is a very strong, mighty and active thing. It does not lie asleep in the soul. Grace hears, leads, draws, changes, works all in man, and lets itself be distinctly felt and experienced. It is hidden, but its works are evident.” –Martin Luther

In his book, Grateful for Everything, author Skip Johnson writes, “When we diligently study, learn, and apply skills of being grateful for everything, our day-to-day experience shifts from trying to stay one step ahead of problems to consistently trusting and appreciating life and all the lessons that are presented to us.” We were given life by grace and we maintain a graceful life through gratitude.

One of the hardest life experiences is to lose a loved one. That experience tests grace, gratitude humility, reverence and a host of other values. When my father passed away at the young age of 63 I was inundated with all of these feelings. He had been very, very sick with complications from diabetes among which took his essence from his family long before the disease took his body away and I remember the feeling of relief that washed over me and through me when my brother called to tell me he died. I remember the feeling of gratitude and grace that came over me in that moment. No more suffering. No more hardship in dealing with this disease. No more anger. No more fighting. No more tears. It cleared the way for me to remember him as my dad, the tall, sensitive, hardworking man that loved me like no one else could. Keeping his grace and gentleness inside of me, feeling grateful for having had him in my life at all, helps to insure his legacy will be strong and eternal.

It’s a given that we will stumble, fall, fail, make a mistake, err, slander and do wrong. We are human and we are at the mercy of our own evolutionary level of emotional intelligence. No two people are the same and no two souls grow and learn and evolve the same. What I may have learned at 15 may be something you are learning at 50. No worries in that because in our own time and at our own pace the lessons we need to learn will come and with it will be the emotional attachment that helps the lessons stick for good. That is grace.

I can remember many people who I have felt did me wrong in my life. I can also remember people who have shown me kindness and mercy and consideration simply because those character strengths were a part of who they wanted to be. At some point in our lives we all feel undeserving of kindness but the reality is we are all deserving of kindness especially at those low moments. That is grace.

When someone joyfully notices something about my character that I myself am in denial about that is grace; when a stranger can systematically list all the qualities about me that instantly attracted him/her to me that is grace; when a spouse can love you no matter what mood you are in, that is grace.  It is a persons’ unique, inherent ability to see goodness that makes grace unattainable through deeds. We are all born with grace and it is how we hold onto it and use it and grow with it that makes grace something to behold in spirit.

Grace is unconditional love, unconditional forgiveness and unconditional rebirth. You do nothing to earn it and it yet renewal is its life force.

How can we honor the undeserving gift of Grace:

  • Exist in a constant state of consideration and thoughtfulness. “You listen first with ears, then you wait and listen for what your heart feels, then you consider what they’ve said, then, you reply….” – John Geddes, A Familiar Rain

 

  • Express decency and mercy whenever possible, to yourself as well as to others. “When you are lying in bed at night and regrets from the day come to steal your sleep….’I should have’, ‘If only I’, ‘I wish I,’….grab one of them and turn it into ‘I will’ and sleep peacefully knowing tomorrow will be a better day.” –L.R. Knost

 

 

  • Act with grace in kindness, courtesy, gratitude and clemency. “Growing into your future with health and grace and beauty doesn’t have to take all your time. It rather requires a dedication to caring for yourself as if you were rare and precious, which you are, and regarding all life around you as equally so, which it is.” –Victoria Moran, Younger by the Day

 

  • Offer reprieve to those in need. Be helpful. “No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.” –Charles Dickens

 

 

  • Take grace on like a second skin. Let the evolution, spirit, charm and pleasantness of grace become part of your everyday character strengths.

“Poem by Howard A. Walter”

I would be true, for there are those who trust me;

I would be pure, for there are those who care;

I would be strong, for there are those who suffer;

I would be brave, for there is much to dare.

I would be friend of all, the foe, and the friendless;

I would be giving, and forget the gift;

I would be humble, for I know my weakness;

I would look up, and laugh, and love and lift.”

Call to Action

Where does grace live in you? Is it in your heart, your head, or maybe in your soul?

How can you express your unique grace to others today?

What does grace feel like for you?

Please share your stories. Your story could make all the difference in someone’s life.

 

If you would like to explore more about personal growth, building character strengths, or discovering what more you have inside of you please call for a free discovery session in my Art of YOU coaching program. You can reach me by calling 203-560-3061 or send an email to: lisa@journeyoncoaching.com.

 

10 reasons why those last 5 minutes of the party are so amazing

“If you limit your choices only to what seems possible or reasonable, you disconnect yourself from what you truly want, and all that is left is a compromise. “ – Robert Fritz

If you limit your choices to only attend the party but not engage in conversation because you don’t know anyone anyway, that seems reasonable because at least you are at the party. If you attend the party but act disconnected from what is going on around you the compromise remains that at least you went to the party. What is the truth you are not willing to admit?

The truth is that you really want to engage with others, converse, participate, make new acquaintances or dare I say, friends but you are paralyzed by fear and self-doubt and nothing good can come from being in a room full of people you don’t know so why make any effort?

“It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare, it is because we do not dare that things are difficult.” –Seneca

It is a new year. No doubt you were in a similar or very near social situation during the holiday season. How did you do? What leap forward did you make so that you pushed the boundaries of difficulty? The real question is what happened during the last 5 minutes of the party?

Invariably the last 5 minutes of any social gathering is always the most fun, or the most engaging or the most entertaining leaving you with a feeling something like, ”oh I wish I could have felt this open and comfortable when I arrived.” Instead of beating yourself up over what didn’t happen sooner or what might have been if only……. Let’s take a look at what did happen and how great it was for you to be there.

  1.   You went to the party. Celebrate the fact that you took action on something instead of doing nothing. Most likely you didn’t want to go but felt obligated to go in some way. You did it for reputation sake or for the sake of someone else but you went. Your senses were on high alert. At first you only felt the discomfort of being out of place, of not wanting to be there, of thinking about all of the things you could be doing instead, etc. “We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” –Anais Nin. You showed great perspective in your choice. “Experience is not what happens to a man; it is what a man does with what happens to him.” – Aldous Huxley. Good job!!

2.    Somewhere along the way through this social situation the playing field started to feel a bit more level and balanced. Perhaps people were more relaxed around you because they were drinking, perhaps they were making up stories about you in their own minds and started to become fascinated with meeting you so they approached you first, perhaps they were just good at networking and so meeting someone new was a great opportunity for them. What you probably noticed without realizing it was that you started to flow with whatever was happening and let your mind be free. You stayed centered by accepting whatever you were doing. This is the ultimate in recognizing or acting in balance.” –Chuang Tzu. I wonder what would happen at social gatherings such as a party if everyone in the room acted as if they were the host?

3.     You’ve all had dinner and have had a chance to meet new people and relax a bit. You probably did a little check in with yourself about whether you would want to get someone’s number, deepen an acquaintance, or leave the way you came, feeling like this was a waste of time. What is really happening here is the voice inside of you asking whether you have the courage to make something happen. Will you stand still and let moments go by, will you explore your curiosities and start a conversation, will you walk out the door at the end of the night and for a little while feel triumphant because at least you were at the party only to realize days later that you should have been more bold and courageous and gotten so-and-so’s number. “In their daily life, all are braver than they know.” –Henry David Thoreau. Consider yourself to have been brave simply because you showed up. What else can you remember about that night that would fall in the category of bravery and courage?

4.     I can almost guarantee that at some point you felt bored with the situation you were in but something small sparked your curiosity. Someone said something that surprised you, someone made a spectacle of themselves, or someone performed that sent shivers down your spine. “The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.” –Ellen Parr. What grabbed you so fiercely that your curiosity was peaked and your imagination took over? How did your curiosity open doors for you that night? Curiosity is to be celebrated because you opened yourself up to learn and discover and recognize something that might have stayed illusive and hidden forever. Go you!!

5.     Even though you started out not wanting to be at this social event the bottom line is that you attended. You showed great courage but also great kindness. It might have been a more wise decision to just stay home or go out with other friends but wisdom took over. “Kindness is more important than wisdom, and the recognition of this is the beginning of wisdom.” –Theodore Isaac Rubin. Are you sitting a little taller right now for not even realizing what a great thing it is you did and how the impression you left behind could work in your favor?

6.    Let’s say the evening was a disaster just as you thought it would be. Does that make the experience a failure? “To acknowledge you were wrong yesterday is to acknowledge you are wiser today. “ –Charles Haddon Spurgeon. Sure, you can feel a little embarrassed about your behavior but wouldn’t it be more productive to take what you did and learn from it for the next time? Make a vow to be better in the future whether it be in disposition, behavior, engagement or kindness. A failure isn’t a failure if you learned something right away.

7.    Let’s recognize the perseverance you showed in attending this social soiree by meeting new people, by conversing about nothing important, by tolerating the food, by understanding why you gave up doing something else and attended this gathering instead.  If I have belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it even if I may not have it at the beginning.” –Mahatma Gandhi. You may not have thought you would make it through the night in one piece but actually you believed enough in yourself that not only did you make it through but you guaranteed that you could do it again should you need to.

8.    Perhaps the reason for your reluctance to attend the party was something as simply complicated as feeling inferior, whether it be because you didn’t know how to converse with this particular group of people or because you have never felt comfortable in social situations. Whatever your belief is around inferiority remember this, When you are content to be simply yourself and don’t compare or compete, everybody will respect you.” –Lao Tzu. This is great ammunition for the next big social event and now you are armed and ready to go.

9.    No matter how the night turned out there is one thing for sure; you learned something about yourself this night. Your self-discovery is a powerful realization. “One of the greatest moments in anybody’s developing experience is when he no longer tries to hide from himself but determines to get acquainted with himself as he really is.” –Norman Vincent Peale. Discover on……

10.