“Geez O Pete!” My foot slammed on the break as vehemently as the words flew out of my mouth. “What is going on? Are all the stupid people in the city out driving today?” This particular four way stop has been the bane of my existence since we moved to the area nearly five years ago.
“No one knows how to handle a four way stop any more,” I continued to fume. Belatedly, I remembered my kids in the car. The silence returned to me was deafening. I glanced in the rear view mirror and saw all three kids studiously staring out their windows.
I moved through the intersection, finally, trying to not glare at the offending driver taking his turn before me. I mulled over my actions. Shame poured over my head and dripped to my toes in an anointing of self-reproof.
Ugh. I had blown it. Again.
Where was the grace I often talk to my kids about?
I seemed to forget quickly when I was upset or aggravated.
“Guys,” I began, “I am sorry. That was not cool for me to do. I should have given that guy more grace instead of being in a big hurry.”
“It’s okay mom. Give yourself some grace for that one,” my youngest chirped from the middle seat of the mommobile. He flashed me a bright smile. I appreciated his quick forgiveness, but I had done this way too many times (and had to apologize) for it to sink deeply and lighten my mood. By the time we reached the parking lot of the store, I felt better, but the lingering sensation of remorse hung over me like a grey cloud of buzzing tse tse flies.
Give yourself grace for that one.
Grace: Unmerited favor.
If I had treated the driver the way I wanted to be treated, I would have not reacted in such a way. One could argue that he probably deserved it, considering he nearly plowed into my vehicle. But grace isn’t about deserving something. It’s about bestowing a kind of gift, regardless of if they have earned it or not.
I need it – a lot of it – and I recognize that, but sometimes it’s difficult to give the grace that others desperately need. Knowing I need grace and giving it are two different things, after all. So much has been given to me. I am blessed way more than I deserve.
The internal dialogue went on . . .
Why is it so hard to extend it to others?
Because we encounter those who do not live with the purpose of giving grace.
But my giving grace should not depend upon others giving it to me first. That wouldn’t be grace. That would be reciprocation.
Like I said, I talk to my kids frequently about grace. These situations, like the one described above, are chances to show my children grace in action. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately), they see the consequences of not giving grace all too often. Perhaps if they see the consequences for me, they will learn from my mistakes. Oh how I wish for my children to live grace filled lives. I must model it for them. The world at large certainly will not.
Music has a term called the grace note. It is “an extra note added as an embellishment and not essential to the harmony or melody.”
Can one live life without grace?
Certainly. It would be a difficult existence, however. The results of allowing grace to abound have a natural rebound effect: being purposeful in giving grace allows me to lead a life with far less stress. It, in fact, ornaments my life in beautiful and unexpected ways. When I learn to give grace, grace is extended back much more abundantly. I want that grace extended to me. I need that grace so much more than I seem to have to give it.
Like a soundtrack of perfect melodies for each day we are given, grace is the legacy I want my children to remember and embrace.