A Little More Grace

Today, dear reader, I write this blog not only for public consumption but also for a reminder to myself. As a Christian, one of our most sacred times of the year is coming up – Christmas. During this time of year, we celebrate the birth of our savior more than 2000 years ago to humble beginnings in a stable. We give thanks to a new beginning for us, a chance for ever-lasting life in the presence of our heavenly father not because of anything we’ve done that makes us worthwhile, but simply because of the amazing grace bestowed upon us.

So, as I ponder this amidst all of the day in and day out experiences of just regular life here on earth, as I marvel at the grace given to me; I wonder why I have such a hard time extending grace to those around me. Why do I think little daily irritants must become full out battles that I must win in order to prove my worth to who? Myself? The World?

What if instead, I had simply typed “Hey, just wanted to let you know I love you.” Or here’s a thought, not typed anything and picked up the phone and called him.

And I also remind myself to remember who I’m battling. When did the person who cut me off in traffic become my sworn enemy, deserving of numerous curses and tailgating with my lights flashing in their review mirror? Did I even consider for a moment it might be a single parent rushing to get to work on time so she doesn’t get fired? Or a new driver who hasn’t quite learned the ins and outs of driving? Or maybe it’s someone grieving so hard over a recent loss that he doesn’t even have the ability to recognize he “took my spot,” on this road that I seem to think was created for me and me alone.

And let’s not forget that Facebook post where I made a point to let my brother know how ridiculous his thoughts are and then referenced every mistake in his post so the world could also know what an idiot he is. What if instead, I had simply typed “Hey, just wanted to let you know I love you.” Or here’s a thought, not typed anything and picked up the phone and called him. How did I put him on my enemy list? Do I know why he’s hurting and maybe trying to hurt others with his comments? If I do, maybe I should focus on healing that hurt instead of pouring salt upon his wounds.

Christmas is a wondrous, joyous season, but it can also be a painful season, where we inflict more harm than good. We get blinded by the Christmas lights and lured into competitiveness by Black Friday sales and neighborhood displays. We worry about the perfect tree, the perfect present, the perfect family image. We forget the grace extended to us and that it is required by our faith to extend that grace to others – people who are hurting and struggling in ways we may never know. We forget our humble beginnings and honestly, our place in the world (which is not on the top, but should be on the bottom).

What if we all took one battle today and said “I lose?” I will let the other person be right. I will let it be their day, their way. It doesn’t matter who’s right or wrong; I will let them have this win and I will give thanks for the losing. I will extend grace to those around me, not knowing who needs it, deserves it or want it. I will simply give grace out and offer a hand to help someone win today.

Residents skating on the open ice at Lake George, St. Cloud, MN; taken by Dawn Holler