September 16, 2021

Doing Grace

Although I was raised saying a prayer before each meal I did not keep up the tradition in my house. When the extended family gathers a prayer is said before the meal. My children know our standard grace and several others. They also know the impromptu prayers. Those spoken by a volunteer or volun-told member or when each person says a few words as the spirit moves them.

When I see “We do grace” on the plaque hanging in the kitchen I don’t think of words before a meal. For my family Doing Grace is holding space for mistakes. It’s allowing for screwing up. Grace is forgiving. It’s an elastic mortar that keeps us from breaking completely apart. When I’m at odds with my sister, my husband, my child. When I hurt someone through deeds or words. When I am hurt by what was said or how it was said. Grace is the ability to come back together and make amends. Grace is the deep knowing that no matter what we are still family. That each of us belong.

Grace can be words before a meal. It can be a forgiveness umbrella held by your Deity. But to DO grace is something else entirely. Doing grace is compassionate and difficult. My experience is that humans more easily forgive and make concessions for others than we do for ourselves. We choose to hold ourselves hostage to strict standards. Ideals of what a good person should do. What a good father, friend, child, partner, teacher, employee, manager, owner, mother should do. Holding impossible expectations for ourselves. The internal story says we have to prove our worthiness. In the same breath we allow great leeway for those around us. To Do Grace we have to work at the hard job of self love and forgiveness. Doing grace requires forgiving ourselves as well as those we love.

I’ve discovered it is sometimes our own feelings of inadequacy that spurs irritation or lack of acceptance of others. That is why grace for self is vital. It expands our capacity for resilience. When you’ve got you your energy can shift from the tar baby (when everything sticks) to the trampoline (where things bounce off). If you stand confident, solid in your value and self worth there is so much less to justify, protect, or defend. As we focus less on justifying, protecting, and defending we open up. We are able to hear without judgement. Accept without caveats.

Having grace for family and friends and the people standing in the middle of the grocery store aisle blocking traffic both directions takes effort. From deep breathing while you wait to the courage it takes to ask hard questions and listen openly. There are no pat answers. There are many tools and strategies. More than I want to delve into here. A great starting point is to remember everyone (you included) is doing the best they can with the knowledge and resources they have. Have grace. Give grace. Receive grace. Do Grace.

For Your Best Possible Self
Coach Christine Clark

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