The Doctrine of Love: Part Two – Grace

As promised, this is the second part of a blog that has sort of been rolling around in my head for quite some time. The concept: grace. It’s a big one, I know.  Or perhaps it’s obscure enough that you’ve never really thought about it before.  Hopefully this blog will provide some food for thought.

Having grown up in the church, the concept of grace is something that I have had first-hand experience with for my entire life.  However, it wasn’t always learned from those in the church.  Talk to anyone who has been a part of a church family, religious organization, sect, or passionate group, and you will likely hear stories of un-grace or “dis-grace” – which is ironic because any true God-related practice should have grace at its very core, oozing from every pore of its being.  After all, that is how Christ demonstrated His true love for us.  And yet that is the furthest from the Christian “norm” in most cases.

What sets Christianity apart from other religions is its fundamental teaching of grace.  Our entire redemption is thanks to the grace of God and His gift of salvation through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.  It is nothing we can earn through good behaviour, rather our positive behaviour comes out of our understanding of and experience with grace.  As a believer and follower, then, I therefore find myself wrapped up in the beauty of this concept.

Though I am fascinated and overwhelmed by the significance of grace, and though I am deeply touched by its meaning in my own life, I find that my humanity betrays the essence of its spirit and has restricted my own practice of it.  Yes, as contradictory as it may seem, the ones who are most aware of a reality are quite often just as susceptible to its malpractice as those who are unaware.  And yet, the awareness itself brings us one step closer to incorporating the concept more fully into our lives.

I say this for those of the Christian faith, and anyone else as well.  The concept of grace is not something only for the Christian believer – it is for everyone.  I think all of us, both Christians and others, too often practice judgement – in the name of love, of course – thinking that somehow that will bring about the change we seek (in others or ourselves).  To be quite honest, I believe a person’s best catalyst for change is their expression of love seen in their capacity for grace.

Think about it…how often do we criticize others, thinking that our own methodology or thinking is the “right” way (whatever the topic may be)?  And how often do we end up acting or thinking a certain way out of feelings of shame or guilt or obligation due to the critical judgment from others? So what is the answer?  How is this reconciled or rectified?

The answer is grace – unmeritted favour…respect, honour, kind regard – just for the sake of it.

The essence of love is not found in righteous judgment but the humility of grace.  Again I say, “when in the existence of human kind has the use of negative reinforcement ever proven to be ultimately successful in increasing a person’s self-awareness, contributing to said person’s intrinsic motivation (or ultimately accomplishing the goal of bringing meaning and purpose to life)?” It hasn’t.

And so…this is the focus of my journey.  In retrospect, it has been for a very long time – likely, my entire existence.  And I think the same can be said for many people.  It is a daily re-awakening to my true self, the joy within, and – through that – experiencing a connection to the world around me.  You see, I don’t think we as a people are just seeking validation (though it can be helpful) or reciprocity (though it may be comforting); I think we are ultimately drawn to the greater concept of grace (the freedom to be and become who we are and have been created to be without fear of persecution).

Imagine a life lived in a world where the purity of love (for others and ourselves) was the norm. How would that change the way we see things?  How would it change the way we treat one another?  How would it change the way we see and treat ourselves? What would you pursue more fully or how might you express yourself differently if you lived without the judgement of friends, family, society, or yourself?  You might not even know at this point.  You might not even be aware of your own interests, passions, or abilities.  Why not take some time to explore those things? Why not use this day to share that exploration with others?

Imagine a world full of self-aware, genuine, loving, gracious people…a world free from guilt, grudges, bitterness, anger, fear, and hatred…

A girl can dream, can’t she? 🙂

…this is my life. ❤

Re-Awakening Joy

“Do something everyday, regardless.  Nothing will happen unless you first initiate a process of cause and effect.  This starts with an action.  Reawaken the possibility of possibility.  Reawaken it with play.”

This week I saw the above post on Facebook and it re-awakened in me an awareness of my current adventure.  I speak often of the “Choose Your Own Adventure” novel that we each write as we watch our personal stories play out in real-time.  Every day is a new opportunity to create the life we want for ourselves.  Every moment presents us with the beauty of “newness” that we might choose to better our situation or, at the very least, awaken to and appreciate the moment in which we find ourselves.  What are the  possibilities in the possibilities?

We so easily get lost in the monotony and obligation of the “grind” of every-day life – going through the motions, watching the clock, just putting in time until we can get to the weekend.  And the interesting thing is, this means of existence is understood as “normal” and the average person out there never questions it.  We grow up going to school, we find a job, “work hard”, acquiesce to social obligation, and somewhere along the way we more than likely end up looking for a way to take our minds off the unbearable expectations (both societal and personal) which become our impending doom.  Sounds ominous, doesn’t it?  I know I’m being dramatic here, but this is the place in which we find ourselves at times.  We’ve all been there to some degree.

It is from this place which I speak today.  Actually, I’m probably a few steps out of this “pit” right now which gives me enough perspective and courage to be able to speak about it.  From the bottom, having regained some strength and renewed determination, I can’t help but think “there must be a better way”.  Being the reflective individual that I am, I keep wondering “what would happen if we allowed ourselves to prioritize the experience of true joy on a daily basis?”  I don’t just mean “pleasure” or the art of distraction – whatever form that takes.  But how cool would it be if we each understood ourselves enough to become aware of our circumstances, aware of our inner person, aware of our heart’s true love and passion? What is it that makes your heart soar?  What is it that makes  you swell with joy inside?

And taking that one step further, what would happen if we were not afraid or hesitant in any way to express that?  How would our own lives change if we were more generous in spirit – with both ourselves and others?  How might we influence the lives of those around us?  I have been touched this week by the concept of “being with” – the beauty of an embrace and its way of communicating without any words required, the comfort of shared company (to laugh, joke, sing, listen), as well as the depths touched through time alone learning to “be with” ones own “stuff”.

Through the re-awakening of our joy, I believe we can learn to appreciate and express  the beauty which is in and around each and every one of us.  Through the art of play, the acknowledgement of our gifts, and the uninhibited expression of our true self, I know we can re-awaken that joy.  What is it that you love to do?  Do it!  What is it that scares you the most?  Face it!  With whom do you enjoy spending time?  Tell them!  Be with them!  Life is too short to live in fear, condemnation, or guilt – directed by obligation (both imagined or verbalized).  Are you feeling weighed down with “should’s” or “ought to’s”? Do you dread the dawning of a new day for the obligations it involves or the pressures it brings?

Know today that you are not alone.  But please don’t let the weight of your obligations drag you under.  Start by acknowledging the things that make you smile today, the moments of gratitude that helped to dispel the fear or the pain.  That is your joy being re-awakened.  That is your heart fighting for its life.  Now take a deep breath and follow it.  Follow the bright light of possibilities and give life to your heart’s inner joy.  It is there that you will find what you have been looking for.