The start of a new calendar year is a reminder that we are constantly entering into a new era of our lives: an era without some that we love, an era with a new job or career, a time with a different government, a period of growth and change. Always change and we hope always growth. Moving forward is not an option, each day will follow the last whether we want change or not, but how we move forward is up to us.
This morning I woke up with the words to a U2 song in my head that I have not heard in ages.
Grace, it’s the name for a girl
It’s also a thought that changed the world
And when she walks on the street
You can hear the strings
Grace finds goodness in everything
What once was hurt
What once was friction
What left a mark
No longer stings
Because Grace makes beauty
Out of ugly things
Grace makes beauty out of ugly things
There are so many ways in which we can understand concept of grace, as suggested in the song. It’s the name of my grandniece, it is the unmerited assistance of God in our lives, and it can be an act of kindness and courtesy extended to another. The latter is within the realm of each of us to offer to another, to show grace, kindness, and courtesy to another, especially to those with whom we disagree.
It is amazing how little grace I see around me, even among those I respect and would expect to find it the most. How many Facebook posts and blogs are written simply to show how wrong someone else is, to mock their faith (in the Bible, a political figure, an ideology), or simply to show how right we are? Not only is there no grace, there is embedded in such actions hatred and arrogance. When someone with whom we disagree meets calamity do we have pity, recognizing that we too will suffer hardship at some point? Or do we delight in their comeuppance and, being scholars, call it Schadenfreude?
Or can we engage with people and ideas assuming that they hold their beliefs for motives as sincere as our own? Can we listen to their stories and struggles and acknowledge that while it is not our own journey, it is the one they must take and therefore they deserve our encouragement and sympathy? Or can we offer a little grace into a world that is always and has always been hurting and in need?
As we enter into this next era I will seek to be gracious with myself and others. Will you join me?
Grace, it’s a thought that changed the world; it makes beauty out of ugly things.