Chaos. Pandemonium. Aren’t we constantly surrounded by those terrible companions? When you go to the grocery store you’re confronted with decisions and ads and music and employees communicating over the speaker system. When you’re in the car you’re surrounded by blinking lights and honking horns, radio ads and music, sirens, maps, traffic signs and signals. Even alone and in silence, we are constantly bombarded by phone notifications, to-do lists, needy friends and family members, howling pets, and our own haunting and chaotic thoughts.
Worst of all, you’re expected to face this chaos and pandemonium with a pleasant smile. You’re expected to be sociable, helpful, gracious. I cannot tell you how many times I have thought to myself, “What if I don’t feel gracious today?”
I’m a very idealistic person. I always think of the world in terms of what it could be. I would watch the most beautiful, gracious people in my life and think how much I wanted to be like them. I wanted to treat people the way they treated people. I wanted to touch the world the way they touched the world. I wanted to be at peace with life the way they were at peace with life.
Unfortunately, I am human. People annoy me. I snap at them. I get frustrated. I give up more than I should. Time flies by. I procrastinate. Life challenges me. I fail. I fail a lot. I replay scenes from my life again and again in my head and I rebuke myself for failing to be gracious.
In high school, my mom gave me the book The Hawk and the Dove to read in my spare time. This lovely little masterpiece by Penelope Wilcock delves into the lives of several monks in the Middle Ages. I found it difficult to describe this book and how relatable it was to my friends. When I tried to tell them that I deeply felt the same things as the fifty-five year old abbot in my “monk book” they would simply raise their eyebrows and laugh. What I couldn’t explain at the time was that those monks were in search of a gracious lifestyle. This meant forgiveness, even when brutally wounded. It meant sacrifice, even when painfully exhausted. It meant thinking of others first even when you were convinced they always thought of you last. It meant living as Christ lived.
I used to think that graciousness was a thing in and of itself. I would be gracious and therefore I would let my sister have the last piece of pie. I would be gracious and therefore not explode in anger at my cat who had spilled her food for the fiftieth time. But as I tried again and again to be gracious, it was a chore. I had made grace a law to myself. As I read more of my “monk books” and began to learn more about the beauty and power of Christ’s gospel from a caring pastor, I learned that I had graciousness upside-down.
I have since concluded that graciousness is an outpouring of peace.
Peace is the foundation of grace. Peace is rest. Rest in God’s love, rest in Christ’s righteousness, rest in the Spirit’s work in our lives. Peace is knowing that everything happens for a reason. Peace is knowing that this world is temporal, and that the next world is eternal. Peace is knowing which world is more valuable.
When we live with this peace, the end result will be grace. If I can sit quietly alone and know that I have been justified, know that I am forgiven, and know that I am being sanctified, I have nothing else to worry about. (That is not to discount the troubles of this world at all, but rather to put them in their proper place and priority. Salvation first, sanctification second, the worries of this world should be overshadowed by the former two.)
And so this became my new goal. First, to live with peace. Second, to walk with grace. I remember the first time my family went to Disney World. We got very close to the giraffes (my favorite animal) on the safari in Animal Kingdom. The tour guide explained that the African word for giraffe was derived from the phrase “to walk with grace.” Giraffes are tall, awkward, gangly, surrounded by predators and chaos in the wilds of Africa, yet they walk so gracefully. Maybe we could learn from the giraffe.
There’s one more thing you should know about me to give context to this blog. My middle name is Grace. My late grandpa used to call me Little Grace. As we grow and mature, we all eventually identify a theme in our life and walk of faith. Mine was identified for me. Again and again I am astounded by the grace of God. My favorite Bible verse is 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
This is the grace I hope to walk with: the peace of God that surpasses my understanding, knowing that God has a purpose for me even though I don’t know what it is, and no matter what I may face in this life, his grace is sufficient for me. This is the grace I hope to share on this blog.
Here I humbly invite you to walk with me as I learn to walk with grace.
And so the adventure begins.