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Saturday, July 10, 2010

Sometimes There Are No Witty Titles; But There Is Grace

I can not recall the last time I was so grateful for a Saturday morning. As I write this, I've just gotten back from getting morning coffee at Starbucks. I went? In my nightgown (what? It's pretty, I'm comfortable, and it makes me feel better... so, I threw on a "men's style," long-sleeve pj top; so I was totally decent); I may not get out of it until it's time to get ready for my date... we'll see. It was kind of funny to me; as I was at the window waiting for my coffee? The sweet barista girl and I were talking about how hard it is to wake up this morning and so I said, "Yeah, that's why I'm still in my pajamas." She looked at me, long and hard for a second, and then said, "Those are your pajamas?? You've got some nice pajamas - like those ladies on the T.V.... I always think to myself 'Who dresses like that?'" She paused for a moment, looked at me again, somewhat quizzically and said, "And now I know... you do!" Giggle... LOL She was cute and this was just a funny aside... a bright spot in a somewhat stormy week. :)

It has been a long week; there's a lot going on that I've been juggling. I'm grateful for my life; I am... but, sometimes it wears me out. :p Little weary today. I'm struggling with a concept, this week: Grace. More specifically, the extension of grace when things fail, when people fail, when your best laid plans go awry. I fail every day; every day there's something I stumble over. But God always has Grace for me: this unmerited favor that breathes life into me every minute of every day. (Eph 2:5) And since I've had that coverage, I've always looked at my failures/missteps as an opportunity for "failing forward." An opportunity to leverage my mistakes and learn from them; be refined.

So, where am I going with this? Well, not quite sure honestly; but, I think it's this: I've tried (I think) to extend that same type of grace that God's extended to me to others. When someone hurts me, or fails me; it's painful.. that doesn't change. But, I think I try hard to immediately address what needs it and then let it go. Rather than permanently judge someone or write them off; I try to extend them the grace that's necessary to move ahead. This sometimes takes more of a concerted effort than others... but, I don't see this as something that makes me unique or special. To me, it's just part of being a Christian; we're called to do it.

We're called to extend grace when it's called for. Not just for the sake of others, either; but, I think it's because "Grace" is a multi-faceted concept. In the greek, the word means "CHARIS" (χαρις) - gracefulness, beauty, good-will, unmerited kindness.. favour. In fact, the Old Testament repeatedly speaks of finding Grace in the form of favour in the eyes of God or Man (Gen. 6:8; 19:19; 33:15; Ex. 33:12; 34:9; I Sam 1:18; 27:5; Esth. 2:7) - to the point that I've practically had to come to the realization that Grace is an active, working principle as opposed to esoteric theory. The New Testament follows that up with what the extension of Grace; both as the recepient and the giver, inspires in us: a loving kindness, an emotion of thankfulness that over time alters our perspective and overall outlook (Luke 4:22; I Cor. 10:30; 15:57; II Cor. 2:14; 8:16; I Tim. 1:12). At least, I think it does; it certainly has mine.

So, that part I get - or, at least I get my understanding of it. Where I'm failing, struggling, is that I DO believe this is a calling that's inherent to the Christian life - that God's extension of Grace to us inspires us to extend it to others. So, how is it that so often people that I can look at and see God's influence on their lives... have such a hard time with the execution of Grace towards others? This is most especially mind-boggling to me of those that ask for Grace from others - practically require it regularly for a myriad of reasons (bad moods, untenable siutations, overwhelming stress, whatever) - but, can not see fit to extend it themselves. I'm not judging; I just don't understand it.

But, it seems to me that to really extend grace means it has to be free: not dependent on any prior claim, consideration or action from others. So, my lack of understanding does not release me from my calling... my willing obligation to extend it. Nor would I want it to; it's caught up in my faith and who I am (Rom 5:1-2; 1Tit 1:12). I'd just like to understand it a little better; so, that's what I'm mulling over currently. I know this is a long one - but, as always, welcome any thoughts or messages you care to leave/send on your perspective.

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