Today I want to talk about grace.
Because it’s something that we all crave, but struggle to understand.
Grace, after all, is undeserved favour. In a world where justice demands that people get what they deserve, grace just doesn’t make sense.
Or does it?
I’ll admit that I am extremely humbled by the grace I receive on a daily basis. I make so many mistakes. I say the wrong thing and do the wrong thing. I forget important stuff, miss out on certain moments, drop the ball on different responsibilities, and ultimately fail to measure up to the standard I set for myself.
I’m sure you can relate.
Somewhere in the midst of navigating this huge ocean we call life, the flawed nature of our humanity begins to weigh on us. When it does, it is easy to feel ourselves sinking beneath the waves of disappointments we face with ourselves and with each other.
Swimming in the sea of social expectations, our personal standards become like the elusive horizon, disappearing further and further from view until the sun ultimately sets on our lives. Perfection, we realize, is a marker that we will never reach.
That’s where grace comes in.
Just when we feel like we can’t tread water anymore, grace extends relief to us like a life ring.
Grabbing onto grace, we escape the fate of drowning. We still feel the waves and currents of life jostling us up and down, but they no longer are compromising our ability to breathe. We know that we are safe. We know that we are forgiven. We know that we are accepted. We know that we are loved.
And it is once we’ve caught our breath, that the questions truly start.
Who saved us?
Why did they save us?
The answers to these questions vary depending on who you ask and the situation you are in. Grace, after all, is a perplexing phenomenon.
If you look up definitions of it, you’ll find that it is often associated with the divine.
In Christianity, for instance, Jesus Christ’s death on the cross is the ultimate example of God’s grace towards humanity. God loved people so much that He sent His own son to die in their place. Grace, as told through the events of Easter, is a miraculous story of unconditional love.
Something that I find truly miraculous about grace, is that it can take so many different forms. We find examples of grace in the people who kindly let us merge in front of them in traffic, in the family member or friend who overlooks our bad attitudes and lends us their car anyway, or that co-worker who recognizes that we need some extra assistance and encouragement.
We find grace in conversations where people choose to love each other despite their differences. We experience grace when healing words fill the hurt places of our hearts, when people choose to respond peacefully to hostile situations, instead of acting in violence.
And regardless of our different values and beliefs, we can agree that grace feels good. Undeserved favour is life-giving, and often, lifesaving.
Perhaps that is why grace does make sense in today’s world.
Perhaps that is why there is a desperate need for grace in our conversations and actions. If the logic of grace is illogical to us, then maybe that is just further evidence that our own faculties of reason are in need of adjustment.
So, if you are having a day where the waves of life are crashing down a bit harder than usual, please take heart. There is more to you than this moment. You are not defined by your mistakes. Grace, as irrational as it may seem, is here to grab onto. We can extend it to others, but every once in a while we also need to extend it to ourselves!