I’ve written about grace before, but there are so many facets of it. Recently, I’ve been dwelling a lot on the grace we give to others and receive from others. I think often, when it comes to others we get mercy and grace confused. They are both vital but so very different. By definition, mercy is compassionate or kindly forbearance shown toward an offender, an enemy, or other person in one's power; compassion, pity, or benevolence. Grace is elegance or beauty of form, manner, motion, or action, a manifestation of favor, especially by a superior.
The difference between mercy and grace, is mercy welcomed the son home and grace threw him a party.
“When he was still a long way off, his father saw him. His heart pounding, he ran out, embraced him, and kissed him. The son started his speech: ‘Father, I’ve sinned against God, I’ve sinned before you; I don’t deserve to be called your son ever again.’
But the father wasn’t listening. He was calling to the servants, ‘Quick. Bring a clean set of clothes and dress him. Put the family ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Then get a grain-fed heifer and roast it. We’re going to feast! We’re going to have a wonderful time! My son is here—given up for dead and now alive! Given up for lost and now found!’ And they began to have a wonderful time.”
In my curiosities, I started to wonder where we feel we have experienced the most grace and where we feel like we’ve been lacking--whether that be from a certain people group, a specific time in our lives, or any variety of components. For me personally, I feel like I’ve experienced the most grace from my family and from people outside the church, which honestly, it pains me to say the last part. I hate that as a church, sometimes, we do such a horrific job of loving people that we can’t extend grace to people who are hurting just like we are. The thing is, I’ll be the first person to wear a giant, crimson A on my chest and point out this flaw in myself. There are times when I have failed miserably with giving grace to people. Just now, I can sit her and think of specific times where I wish I would have just kept my mouth shut and realized, “Hey bridge, you did that last week. That’s not your life. You are not their savior or their mother. Sit down and shut the **** up.” It’s unfortunate to realize that about yourself. Anyway, enough about my failings, ‘cause there are many, and back to GRACE!
Out of my curiosity, I put a call out on social media for your opinions and thoughts on grace. I got some really good feedback and I discovered something pretty crazy--We’re all messed up and not great at showing grace to each other. I also learned where many people have felt the most grace is their family and friends they’ve had since childhood but that people have also felt the least amount of grace from people in their “Christian” communities.
I want to unpack this, because these are very fascinating to me. First, let’s talk about the Church. Buckle up, this could be a bumpy ride. Alright, here goes nothin’. Grace when it comes from the Church is tricky because, on one hand you can’t just be chill with people being all loosey-goosey, but you also can’t be super pissed about it. The tricky part is the line between calling people higher and condemning them. That sucks. We tetter that line far too easily because grace is hard for us to grasp, which, is crazy to me considering our entire lives are a product of grace from heaven. Let’s get back into it. One girl from Instagram, Kelsey White, said “I hate to say it, but the group of people I have least found grace with are other members of the Church. I understand it’s tricky not condoning behavior, but I think sometimes we are so quick worrying about condoning that we forget love and we forget grace. It’s a weird tightrope walk for a lot of people, so I’m not trying to pass judgement. However, when it comes to grace, I believe the Church could use a bit of nurturing.” This goes back to what I was saying about myself earlier and being shabby at grace. I am a very outspoken member of the “Church” and let me tell you, I often fall of this tightrope, all the time.
I think our best move in this instance, and I’m speaking to myself here too, is to realize we can call people higher, but it’s not our job to get them there. We simply make a statement, show some love, realize “It’s not my life,” as my lovely friend Lara would say, and let God do the rest to bring them into what He’s called them to. Afterall, He’s the only one who can actually change someone’s heart.
Now that we’ve got that covered, onto the other stuff, family and friends. This can also be a touchy subject because family dynamics and the whole “show me your friends, I’ll show you your future” thing. Something I thought was really cool about this specifically was, when people gave the examples of grace, they just said they felt grace when people were there no matter what. That’s the party, free love when you don’t deserve it. Maribel Morales said, “Honestly, my family. They show me grace by loving me even when it’s hard to do so. They support me every which way. And, well, friends. Friends come and go. The ones who stay show grace by simply being there, even when it’s not asked of them. Those are hard to find.” This raises a lot of other topics as well, but we will cover those another time. What I like about what Maribel said, and countless other people said, was that they all alluded to grace being unconditional and founded in love. Thats where the party comes in. Grace takes our failures and applies forgiveness accompanied by unconditional love. You can’t have grace without those two factors. Grace says, I see what you did; I forgive you, and I still love you.
I sit here and relish all the grace I’ve been given and even the grace I haven’t been given because all of those times have taught me about the true meaning of grace. I feel like there is a bit more of unpacking to do on this topic so, if you’ve got some opinions, questions, statements, anything really, I’d love to hear about it.