Grace is Duct Tape for Relationships
I lead a life with a sense of urgency. I’m fully aware that I only have a short time on this earth to make an impact and a difference in the lives of those that are close to me. I’m fully aware that my work will impact my future grandchildren and so I fight for my family and our future on a daily basis.
However, striving for success as we navigate our lives can come at a price, which usually means damaged relationships. It becomes way too easy for me to judge and criticize another person when they don’t meet my expectations and to forget the long term impact my actions may have on that individual.
It’s easy to forget the important things, right? It’s easy to forget that we are enduring life on planet Earth together and that we need grace from God, but also from each other as we strive to reach the finish line. It is easy to become quick with anger, but it seems almost impossible to extend grace to someone when we feel wronged by their actions. So what is grace, exactly?
Justice is getting what we deserve. Mercy is not getting what we deserve; however, grace is getting what we do not deserve. God provided us the model of grace when he gave his only son, Jesus Christ, as a sacrifice for our sins so that we may have eternal life, even though we don’t deserve it.
The fact is, it’s easy to keep score and be prideful in our lives, but it is hard to wipe the slate clean and give one another grace. It’s hard to show grace to that guy who cuts in front of you while you’re driving to work or when your spouse is quick to hurt you with a biting comment. Showing grace in moments of conflict is hard, but is the magic move to healthy, long-term relationships. So how do we show grace? Here are four ideas to consider:
- Be grateful – A grateful spirit is a graceful spirit. If you start and end your days by taking account of all the things you are thankful for, you begin to realize you don’t deserve most of the blessings in your life, yet God provides them to you anyway. When you learn to be grateful for what you have, it becomes easier to extend grace to a fellow human being.
- Maintain perspective – Conflict feeds off a lack of perspective. It’s easy to anger when an incident is taken out of context and not assessed within the bigger picture of our lives. Getting cut off in traffic is not as stressful when you take a deep breath and realize that it won’t make you late for work and even if you are late, does it really matter?
- Maintain identity – Remember who you are. You’re a parent, a spouse, a sibling, a child, a leader, a Christian. Remembering our roles helps us maintain level heads and reminds us that we represent more than just ourselves as we interact with one another. I often ask myself this question as I begin to react to a situation, “What would my kids think if they saw me right now?” Remembering that I’m a father, with little ones that are being shaped by my actions, attitude, and behavior usually triggers me to make better decisions. What is the question you can ask yourself to inspire you to take the higher road?
- Pray – I often find myself in difficult positions. They seem impossible in the moment and I become stressed and search for quick answers that are nowhere to be found. Kneeling in prayer is always the best course of action in times of strife, in good times, in every time, for that matter. Never forget or be too prideful to kneel before the Lord in prayer and thanksgiving, for He is your strength and life in all things.
Grace strengthens and emboldens our society to achieve great things and live peacefully with one another. So the next time you find anger boiling deep within your soul, take a deep breath, close your eyes and smile at the situation and allow grace to take over. By doing that one simple thing, you are passing on what has been freely given to you. No one deserves grace, but that’s not the point. You give grace in spite of the person and in spite of yourself. You give grace because it is the right thing to do, and doing the right thing wins, ALWAYS. Who will you give grace to today?