Two things I have learned very recent in my life come to mind as I reflect. Two simple words, two simple concepts but so tough to execute for so many- “gratitude” and “grace”. What do these concepts, what do these words mean to me? It’s simple, really. And it’s not that you cannot vent about things that are bugging you to your friends or best of friends, and I’m not saying you cannot judge, but, these two concepts, these two words– it’s about what you keep inside. It’s about how you treat your soul that matters.
Gratitude is defined as “a feeling of thankfulness and appreciation.” I think it’s so much more than that. I think it’s more than waking up and feeling gratitude for all you have. It’s more than just saying, “oh that was so kind of you… I really appreciate it.” It is about feeling it. When you truly feel gratitude, when you truly think about the good in people and forgive their trespass, your soul feels the side effects of gratitude. Again, is it okay to be frustrated when someone invites you to a party the night before the party? Sure, it’s okay and you should vent and move on. But the key is to move on – to feel the other side of that invitation; the kindness, the gratitude that you were even invited. This gratitude is what keeps your soul free from demise. But you see, gratitude alone is not enough. It goes with grace. I think of gratitude as the “Thank You” before the graceful “You’re Welcome.”
Grace has many definitions and the word is also rooted in Christian philosophy. The two definitions of grace that I think apply for me are, “a disposition to kindness and compassion” and “a sense of propriety and consideration for others.” But again, I think it goes deeper than that. It is about composure, about how you handle a situation on the outside and inside. I think, that in any situation, depending on how you (not others around you) handle what is going on, you display grace which brings up this third definition of grace that I think is fitting: “Be beautiful to look at.” No matter how dissatisfied you may be with how you look on the outside, if you handle yourself with grace, you look beautiful. So true! For example, a few years ago, I finally learned about grace. A mom RSVPed very late (the night before) for my daughter’s birthday party. It chapped my hide. I did not handle it with grace. I basically replied back, “you replied too late. Sorry.” I learned about grace that day even if the other person never did. I can vent all I want and should vent about how disrespectful that mother was towards me but then the proper response is, “of course, we’d love to have JOE join the party. Thank you for your RSVP.” That is grace. That is kindness and compassion. Fast forward two years later, and a different mother, two hours before the party, called me to say, “RENEE is coming to the party and we are sorry to RSVP on the day of but I just saw the invitation.” Then, that same mother and her child came to the party an hour late. You know what? It’s okay. Does that mother know about grace? Maybe. Maybe not. Her disrespect is not my concern. If you have grace in you, peace with your soul, peace with the fact that others can be as rude as they want, you will nonetheless be gracious, and say, “of course, you are always very welcome.”
Now, I am not saying roll over, play dead, let others take advantage of you or mistreat you. I am saying that in small situations where it really doesn’t matter, be graceful. Move on. Fight where you need to fight and put your energy where it counts. Not everything requires a battle and you do not always have to be right.
Another example of grace is not being afraid to admit that you were wrong. Admit when you make mistakes and don’t try to cover them up by blaming external factors or others. Always look within first to see what you did to cause this and then handle it with grace. And most importantly, give others the benefit of the doubt. Life happens and people are not like you. So, how you handle the situations that life presents will dictate how joyous your soul can be…. how beautiful inside and out you not only appear to others, but how beautiful you truly ARE — for me, gratitude and grace go hand-in-hand. I may stumble along the way and I may vent to my friends, but I will always try to have gratitude and grace. And when I falter because I will, I will remind myself that I am human, look within at what I did wrong and strive to handle it all with … Grace!