“One imponderable trait of the human psyche is its ability to make irrational judgments about worthwhile human investments along with its refusal to view life in light of eternity.” – Brennan Manning
Grace is the mantle we live under. It is by grace that we have access to the God of the Ages. The idea of grace is based in people; it covers their character – it recognizes their value instead of their actions. If the response is not mindful of the character of the person, it is not grace. Grace is not indifferent; it is neither arbitrary nor self-serving. It cannot be earned. Grace is not a result of a system of merit. When we give grace it does not warrant grace being given. The basis of grace is the value placed on the recipient by the one who recognizes the worthiness of the individual and responds to person, not the action. Grace is the fuel for community. When we allow this bond to be furthered within our relationships, trust and safety reign. We bring others in to the place of unshakable continuity, where we all long to be. Unmerited, unconditional acceptance: This is the hearts true longing in this life – to be qualified as deserving, even though failure is inevitable in our actions and in our lives.
Many times in our lives we reserve grace from others, and from ourselves – The wife who rails at her husband for an incomplete task. The pastor who is ostracized by a church when human failing has shown him to be as capable of wrongdoing as everyone else. The daughter whose father neglects her as she grows to be a woman, but then criticizes the choices of her young adulthood. The woman whose single-motherhood has caused her isolation from community. The girl who retreats to cutting herself, to soothe a pain inflicted self, yet suffers the arrows of parent who treats them as a pariah. The upright politician, who stood for justice, yet fell prey to the traps of power and position, never to be looked at again as admirable. The lackadaisical teacher who let the rules bend just far enough to entertain their students, yet sacrifices integrity and authority. The woman who quietly carries the scars from an abortion. The man who retreats from his ideal at the demands of another. In the moment of our objection, we reserve grace from our hearts, judge the actions outside of the person and align the outcome with their true character. In this moment, we defeat the aspect of community in our lives we all long for.
If we choose to bind failings and actions with the contents of character, we deny the power of grace in our lives. We shut people out. We push people from access to their community and weaken them to a place of further failing. By disregarding the personal value of another, we encourage them to retreat to isolation of self-doubt and worthlessness. The truth is that we all fall short, we all miss the mark; we all need grace. We also need one another, especially when we fail. Much of society is geared to be quick to judge, without all facts (or any facts sometimes), and quick to form hard opinions on subjects and about people without first hand interaction. If this system of expedient non-justice carries over into our interactions with those in our immediate circles, we are bound to end up isolated. It is a precursor to a legalistic society. People have, do and will fail; it’s grace which keeps us living together in harmony. Embracing this idea is essential in community.
Responding to each other is something we must do everyday. How we do that directly interacts with our mood, our peace, our hearts and our perception of reality. How we respond to others can further isolate us in ourselves, or open our hearts to the magnificence outside of self. The example in Christ is judging the action, not the person and responding in love. He loved and called us to love. He forgave and charged us to forgive. He responded and intended us to be responders. He mentored and commissioned us to mentor as well. He cradled the hurt, the sick, the ostracized and the weak. He ate with the hated tax collector and charged him to respond to the gift of Christ by giving to others. He looked passed the outburst of action with a heart full of grace.
We are all capable of insensitive, hurtful, destructive actions; but we are also capable of grace. Because of the grace which has been given to us, grace can be given to others. In the car, at home, work or school, with our friends and family, even with those who intend to harm us; grace can be given to others. Grace infused in our community provides strength that will be sought out in a world which responds without it. Under the pressures of achievement and isolation we have the ability to embrace those who are in need. We have the ability of seeing in others a worthiness worth communicating to them, and changing our world for the better. We have the ability to further grace in our community but embracing others and loving them for who they are; the same as that which we long for ourselves. Unmerited, unconditional acceptance and love: This is the hearts true longing in this life. May we all go forward in this type of grace…