Be pretty if you can, be witty if you must, but be gracious if it kills you.
To give grace is to make allowances, to offer a second chance, to allow time for maturity.
To experience grace is one thing; to integrate it into your life is quite another. —Christian Wiman, My Bright Abyss
July 16, 2021
I love my kids! I have so many fabulous memories of all three of them. As I contemplated the virtue of graciousness this morning, a memory came to mind of a time when I took my perhaps 7 or 8-year-old daughter Carrianne school clothes shopping.
Carrianne was always, and still is, such a little sweetheart, so sensitive to others with real compassion and kindness…and in this instance, such graciousness. We were in one of the big stores at the mall, maybe J.C. Penny or one similar. Together we picked out shoes, socks, underwear, shirts and pants…but we still needed to find Carrianne a winter coat. You need to know that finances were tight for our family at this time, so much so that I often rode my bike to work because I didn’t have money to put gas in our one car. So we were looking for clothes that were on sale, or at least a “value” brand and price.
Carrianne and I were both enjoying shopping together, and she was excited to be getting some new things. As we were just about finished, Carrianne ran ahead of me to the winter coat section. I caught up with her just as she pulled a coat off the rack, exclaiming “I really love this one!” And then before I could say anything, she checked the price tag and laughed, exclaiming “this is way too expensive!” She simply hung it back up and continued her search.
In our western culture of “I deserve,” “I’m entitled to…,” “just charge it to the credit card,” my little girl graciously removed any pressuring or begging before I could even say a word. I remember getting a little choked up right then, and wishing so much that I could afford to buy her the coat that she loved. I have told this story many times over the years and I continue to get choked up each time I do! And I wish I would just have found a way to get her that coat. In that moment, I wanted to give her the world.
Graciousness personified; that was and is my daughter Carrianne.
— Art Nicklaus
August 1, 2021
My friend Randall Mullins has written a book recounting his time as a missionary in Honduras, titled “Then and Now…Reading Old Journals with Eyes of the Heart.” On pages 239 & 240, in his journal entry dated October 15, 1986, Randall reminds us that we must be gracious to ourselves as well as to others.
San Pedro Sula
I think the truth is that the splendor of grace is just too much for me. Mostly, I know only how to do a little of my duty. This is not bad, and grace is splendid enough that not even the duty-bound escape the snare of its magnificence.
I think that if I were ever to allow grace to have me, I would be a fool of great power and impact. If I could renounce that which clings so tightly to the image, the duty; instead of free-falling passion, and the discipline that sends it home, then the universe would receive from me all that it deserves to receive.
Meanwhile, we do our duty, probably without seeing many of the grace filled promises being placed into our care.
And yet may duty too know its own grace-filled moments.
Randall ends his journal entry for that day lamenting his often-times lack of recognizing grace:
But Grace abides, always and everywhere, whether or not I am awake to it.
September 9, 2021
My friend Audra Higgins posted the following this morning:
“There was a story going around about the Special Olympics. For the hundred-yard dash, there were nine contestants, all of them so-called physically or mentally disabled. All nine of them assembled at the starting line and, at the sound of the gun, they took off. But one little boy didn’t get very far. He stumbled and fell and hurt his knee and began to cry. The other eight children heard the boy crying. They slowed down, turned around, and ran back to him–every one of them ran back to him. The little boy got up, and he and the rest of the runners linked their arms together and joyfully walked to the finish line.
They all finished the race at the same time. And when they did, everyone in the stadium stood up and clapped and whistled and cheered for a long, long time. And you know why? Because deep down we know that what matters in this life is more than winning for ourselves. What really matters is helping others win, too, even if it means slowing down and changing our course now and then.”