Recently I was discussing the idea of forgiveness with a client and found that she resisted the idea, because it seemed like letting the other person off the hook, so to speak. I introduced the idea of grace, even though I’m not personally Christian. I like the idea that there is a concept such as grace, because it means that some things in life really are free, including blessings and “the free and unmerited favor of God….”Source
Whether you believe in God or a creator, or are agnostic or atheist, I think the idea can be appealing and a relief from interpersonal worry. The idea that we’re all human, and trying our best (whether you can believe that or not), allows us to realize that no one is perfect. There are times that we might make asses of ourselves, or make mistakes that are hard to recover from. Similarly, other people may let us down by not living up to our expectations. Nonetheless, we can receive and give grace to each other. We can ease the bite of consternation and judgment by seeing the inter-connection of our species. This realization allows us to be accepting of our own mistakes, as well as those of others. Yes, it’s possible, really!
I see grace as an easier way to walk in this world. Grace takes the pressure off everyone to be perfect and live up to some arbitrary standards we place on one another. What a burden it is to keep score and make sure everyone is doing everything just so. Not only is it a burden, but it’s impossible, if you think of it. Our very diversity as humans makes it impossible for us to live up to one another’s’ standards. There are some basic human behaviors that are generally considered unacceptable, like consciously inflicting harm on each other and taking others’ belongings. However, other behaviors are a matter of custom, culture or taste. And taste, as we know, is very subjective. From our own perspectives, there is the right way, and there’s everyone else’s way to do things.
We can still protect ourselves from others’ objectionable behavior, but we don’t need to hold onto the offense and relive it continually. Giving grace to others means we can let that go and move on with our lives. We can rededicate that energy that was used up being angry and offended, and do something else with it. What a concept! I invite you to think of how to give grace to someone who has offended you in the past, and see how you can re-purpose your precious energy.
Similarly, receiving grace and giving it to yourself can be freeing. You can stop beating yourself up for making social gaffes like making an off-color joke at the office cocktail hour. What good does it do to keep those transgressions alive in your conscious? Can you give yourself grace and allow for future learning and growth? When we’re bound up in shame and regret, not much new happens in your personal development. You can use grace to ease up on yourself and learn from your mistakes. You’re human, and that is perfectly realistic and acceptable. I wouldn’t have it any other way!