This past weekend the world celebrated the annual spring awakening that the Easter holiday brings. For many it was a joyous time to gather with friends and family, an excuse to indulge our sweet tooths, and a reason to break out our floral and pastel clothing.
As with many things in life, in the hustle and bustle of it all, it’s easy to forget the real reason we do what we do. For me, and fellow Christians, Easter means so much more than a day of colorful eggs and fluffy candy Peeps. It is a rebirth, a renewal, and a reassurance that all will be well through God.
Yet, I’m not here to profess the reasons why my beliefs and religion might be right for you – if you’re a Christian you already know, and if you’re not then there are plenty of other resources out there that delve into the faith. I would, however, like to discuss a Christian-based concept that is near to my heart: grace.
You may notice that my blog name includes “graceful.” This is not because I breeze through life with “simple elegance or refinement of movement” (as one definition of grace notes). I am admittedly completely clumsy. No, my passion for grace stems from the religious definition that Merriam-Webster states as, “unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification” (which really just sounds like a bunch of big words to me). So what then does that definition and the concept of grace actually mean?
To me it’s much simpler than the standard definition would imply.
The long and short of grace, in my unprofessional opinion, is this: The idea that we are all utterly flawed – from the murderer to the saint, we’re all human – and we screw up and “sin” time and time again throughout our earthly lives. No matter how hard we may try to be “good,” we’re at some point (or many) going to fall short and be completely undeserving of love – whether it be others’ or most especially God’s. Yet, despite all our grit and grime and gory humaness, God loves us greater than we can ever comprehend. And there is nothing that we can do to earn or rebuke this love – it is wholly unconditional.
That idea of grace give me boundless hope.
But I don’t think grace should be confined to the religious realm. Though we’re human and naturally incapable of this level of Godly unconditional love and forgiveness, I think it is something that all people regardless of religious belief can (dare I say should) strive for. Of course we’re going to fail, but that’s the point.
Imagine for a moment forgiving someone when you know they were wrong. Imagine loving someone in spite of how horribly they may have treated you. I’m not talking about letting someone walk all over you, rather just releasing that pain and anger from your heart and filling it instead with love and joy to pour out into the world. For I believe there are no good or bad people in the world, but that all of us are some proportion of those characteristics – all equally in need of grace.
Of course don’t forget the person most in need of your grace – yourself. Let go of the self-doubt and worry over your errors. Learn from the mistakes of your past, accept that you will likely mess up again in the not-too-distant future, and choose to love and forgive yourself now.
It’s a constant journey understanding, much less actually practicing, the concept of grace. But that’s the kind of wandering I hope to do throughout my life – wandering filled with the love, joy and forgiveness that only grace can give.