I sat there, drinking my third cup of coffee. She had emailed twice already saying she was stuck in terrible traffic. I had left the house before 7 am; kids still sleeping in their beds. My day ahead was a zoo. I had no time to sit. About 20 minutes in, I started getting upset.
Wildly, nearly 40 minutes in to my wait, I heard a refrain in my ears which silenced everything else: “This is a place of grace.” It was almost an audible voice in my head saying: THIS. IS. A. PLACE. OF. GRACE. It was all I could hear until she walked through the doors, frazzled and frustrated, 45 minutes after our appointed meeting time. It was the first thing I said: This is a place of grace.
I have needed that grace. I needed it last night when my mom tried to escort one of my preschool-aged triplets into the Dairy Queen on our road trip home from San Antonio. I’d already gotten to the bathroom with the other two, more emergent, bathroom-needy kids when I heard this howling in the restaurant. I begged the other two not to flush each other down the toilet and ran out of the bathroom only to see my third child screaming at the top of his lungs and unmoving at the front door thinking he had been abandoned. The entire restaurant looked from him to me until he quieted once returned to my arms.
I have needed that grace when I volunteered for too much and didn’t send an analysis for a transition memo. When I forgot the 7 am conference call because my cell phone died. When I snapped at my husband because I didn’t find time to eat lunch that day. When I didn’t call one of my closest friends after her job interview because I went from kids appointments to work deadlines to speeches and it didn’t even register what day it was. When my thank you notes were a month overdue.
What is grace? Grace is a favor rendered by one who need not do so. Kindness we don’t deserve. Favor we can’t earn. Some dictionaries even deem it clemency.
Grace is the central tenet of my faith.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God. Ephesians 2:8
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. Romans 5:1
And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! II Corinthians 9:15
Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:16
I stand in in grace. I have been saved by grace. Given surpassing grace.
But there’s not a lot of grace going around. From the simplest of interactions to the deepest of relationships, we’re missing the giving and receiving of grace. What if we created communities of grace instead of gall? Support instead of sarcasm? Caring instead of conflict?
I’m the worst offender. I react. I doubt. I lose my patience. I judge. All too often I see the situation through my own fallible eyes instead of looking through His eyes of grace. This singular moment today made me want to reframe everything. To offer kindness and favor to another instead of snap judgment or condemnation. To grant grace as others have for me, or as I have wished they might.
The grace of God. The grace that allows for mistakes. The grace that offers compassion.
This, wherever our “this” is, should always be a place of grace.
Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Colossians 4:5