When i was a young man, i was a thief. i stole stuff just to steal it. Dad would come home and i would pick up a couple of coins and perhaps some smokes, if i thought he would not miss them. Bastard smoked menthol, too. Yuck.
One time my mom’s parents were in town for a visit. Of course they stayed with us. One day i walked by the room and saw my Grandma’s purse sitting there. i really think it was out of habit, more than anything else. I cannot remember how much i took, but i thought she would never miss it.
With all the negative energy i spew sometimes, you might think i am am out to attack my grandmother. She obviously did something that justified my behaviour. Nope. Nicest lady in the whole world. Loved me to death. Loved everyone. Generous, kind…the whole package. A grandchild should be so lucky.
Later i was walking by again and grandma called me into her room. i looked in tentatively and she said, “Come in and close the door, please.” i did and she continued. “Johnnie, i know you took some money out of my purse. If you give it back, it will be our secret.”
Can you imagine how i felt receiving that underserved grace? So i immediately ran back to my room and got the cash. Nope. You are wrong again. Man of Steel this guy. I mumbled something about not knowing anything about missing money.
So she looked at me with tears in her eyes and said, “I know it was you and I do not know why you need that money, but if you need it that badly then keep it and i won’t tell anyone.” Krypto-fucking-ite, grandma!
Ok…then i ran to my room bawling and gave grandma her money back and we hugged and all that good stuff. You probably want to get some other vigilantes to help string me up. Get in line. i’ve done worse.
But i learned it was painful to be dishonest. Had been a little thief all my life and at the tender age of 15 my grandma taught me about honesty. And, though i did not know the term then, Grandma also taught me about grace.
i’ve grown up an entitled human being. I covered that somewhere else (My Privilege, i think). I have had more blessings in my 59 years than the majority of people in this world. i do not know if i fully appreciated my blessings in all that time.
Don’t get me wrong. i have felt blessed many times in my life. On those occasions (usually my birthday) i take stock and decide, yes, i am blessed.
But i deserve it. Even God should give me what i want. i worked for it. i earned it.
i deserve praise and blessing. How dare anyone withhold anything from me?
You know…i did not really think that or say it out loud, but my actions spoke volumes. There were many times people gave me grace. Can’t show emotion. Grunt your approval, oh King of the Recliner. Thank you. Thank you.
Dick. i cannot believe with all my training and experiences with grace i acted that way. To anyone who has experienced this kind of thoughtlessness at my hand, i am sorry. Truly sorry. i’m feeling much better now.
Grace is best defined as “undeserved kindness”. If you think you deserve grace, then it is impossible to receive grace, by its very definition. And i cannot give grace to others.
Loving people who love us back is pretty much a no-brainer. It is a natural response, right? No. It is not a natural response. Even with the people who loved me most, i resisted my spiritual urges and would hunker in my bunker (what a wordsmith!).
So begin by loving people next to you. If they are not easy to love, remember this is Grace 101 and you need to start somewhere.
That is how grace works. Grace is all about how we treat others. When we help others, when we show genuine kindness to others, we are learning grace. Nothing in return, thanks. Don’t even need a thank you. And some people will not recognize the grace you offer. That does not matter.
Do you know where else i have learned about grace? Sarah. Sarah has shown me kindness and love and forgiveness. Really, i do not have a leg to stand on. i know i do not deserve these things. i have been ungrateful in the past and she must be exhausted from being kind to an ungrateful person.
But i do not beat myself up as much as before. That would be another terrible response to grace. i do not insist on toughing things out on my own. Remember. If i can’t receive grace, i will have none for others. Grace may not be a tangible substance, but i think that is how it works.
So go ahead and be kind to someone today. Anyone. You may even enjoy it.
Grace be with you,