How apropos that I was sent this little quote in this morning’s email. This week’s Chapter 15, BE THE FIRST ONE TO ACT LOVING OR REACH OUT, is especially personal to me because of a rift in my own family. Not me personally, but between two people very near and dear to me, and because of their discord, it makes things complicated and stressful for the rest of the family. What makes this scenario even sadder is that innocent, young children, who love both of those who are quarrelling, are now deprived of what was once a close, loving relationship.
So where to begin, and how to move on?
Richard Carlson stresses that, “Whenever we hold on to our anger, we turn “small stuff” into really “big stuff” in our minds. We start to believe that our positions are more important than our happiness. They are not. He continues, “The way to be happy is to let go, and reach out. Let other people be right (Chapter 12). Everything will be fine. You’ll experience the peace of letting go, as well as the joy of letting others be right. “ Once this action has been implemented, Dr. Carlson assumes that “they” will become less defensive and more loving toward you and might even reach back. “But if they don’t that’s okay too.”; if only that were true in our own family drama. What if it was REALLY BIG STUFF to begin with? What if the size of the hurt that swells within us is suffocating us and keeping us from starting over and creating something better?
It’s been over a year since the series of misunderstandings, words taken out of context and layers upon layers of guilt and anguish have taken their toll. There has been anger, silence, arguments, drama, tears, sleepless nights, apologies, and more apologies. There is separation, and nothing has seemed to work. So you move on…What else can you do?
I’ll use Merriam Webster’s definition here:
a: unmerited Divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification.
b : a virtue coming from God
c : a state of sanctification enjoyed through divine grace
There are a few more interpretations of grace, but I’ll go with the above. Grace, like forgiveness, is a gift from God. I liken it to use as a tool for a greater good; peace and love. Grace is the healing balm for the wound; forgiveness is redemption, the salvation.
In his book, What’ So Amazing About Grace? Phillip Yancey describes grace as, “God’s love for the underserving.” Aren’t we all undeserving at times?
Mr. Yancy so profoundly puts it this way, “Yet if I care to listen, I hear a loud whisper from the gospel that I did not get what I deserved. I deserved punishment and got forgiveness. I deserved wrath and got love. I deserved debtor’s prison and got instead a clean credit history. I deserved stern lectures and crawl-on-your-knees repentance; I got a banquet….spread for me.”
That statement simply takes my breath away. A love so powerful, mercy so great that even though’ I am the least deserving, I am loved enough, cherished enough, and valued enough to receive Grace!
When you’ve made your very best attempt to atone and admit your wrongdoing, when you’ve extended the olive branch, and asked for forgiveness only to pull back a bloody stump, when you’ve given all you have, what’s left? GRACE. That’s what I’ve learned from my own experiences. Grace is granted to those who are the least deserving of it, and we can either be the one dispensing grace, or the one who is the least deserving of it.
So how then do we dispense grace when I’m sorry just won’t do? We make a decision that’s how, and we choose grace. We live in a world of ungrace. We are bombarded daily by rudeness, profanity, intolerance, discrimination, ignorance and more. Evil and evildoers surround us. Yet, if we can learn to act and react out of love, dispensing the seeds of grace as we go, then perhaps we can create something better. It’s certainly worth a try and it’s certainly better than any other alternative. Grace brings us closer to our own search for peace and a less stressed coexistence with humanity.
THIS WEEKS ADVENTURE ASSIGNMENT
Be the First One to Act Loving or Reach out. Choose Grace!
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