Growing up, I was anything but graceful. Long legs, wobbly ankles, permed-poodle bobbed hair with awful bangs, and giant round glasses. Nevermind the really ugly clothes of the 90s.
Didn’t know how to fit in, wasn’t sure I wanted to anyway, trying to navigate hormones and school and not being completely dorky in every way possible. It was just bad.
Maybe, hopefully, everyone has had a season of life that was just as amazing.
But then, there is so much more to grace than being graceful and un-tacky.
And we need to grow up leaders in Grace and with Grace. Not the cool clothes, smooth words, capable-of-walking-and-chewing-gum-at-the-same-time graceful. But Grace-full, with a capital G. Grace granted by God and with God.
Because Grace also means forgiveness. Mercy.
Forgiveness is one of those things. It just is, and there is really no other way around it.
Forgiveness tickles the back of your mind, reminding you that it should happen. Beckons your words to just be spoken or, at the very least, considered in your thoughts. Offers relief and release from the burdens that can otherwise pile up or anger that can fester.
And yet, it is so darn hard to forgive someone. Especially when you feel that you have been wronged and not that you have caused hurt to someone else.
But that is God’s Grace in action. Forgiving anyway. Sharing and showing mercy-full forgiveness.
Which doesn’t mean forgetting what happened. But forgiving at the depths of the hurt, regardless of who wronged who.
Because that is the Grace we have been given, even when we didn’t earn it. Not at all.
The very definition of mercy.
If Jesus could breathe His last words to beg for God’s forgiveness on our behalf, at His own expense as He writhed in pain on the cross… then what right do we have to withhold God’s Grace, God’s mercy-full forgiveness from someone else?
Especially when the price of forgiveness from someone is probably so much less final than the price Jesus paid?
And yet Grace, God’s Grace, continues beyond just forgiveness and mercy.
Grace is tenderness. Gentleness. Kindness. Goodness. Compassion. It is to fill our very beings in how we treat and lead others.
Grace is the way with which we should share Christ with our children and our communities every single day.
When we allow Grace to become a central component of our cores, our very beings, in our treatment of others, and even of ourselves, are we not exemplifying Christ?
When we offer kindness and gentleness in the hardest of places and with the most challenging of people, are we not sharing Christ’s very own gift of unconditional love? And while this does not mean being a doormat for the whims of others, it does mean that loving people in their brokenness and with compassion is still Christ lived out through us.
When we live out forgiveness, even when it is difficult and unlikely without God’s Grace filling our souls first and granting us enough grace for such moments, when it becomes apparent that it is necessary to love through forgiveness, are we not being living vessels for Christ’s mercy to flow freely?
“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace,expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:4-9).
This is the kind of God-Grace that must fill our world, a sacrificial grace that is endowed by God alone through Jesus Christ, poured out in love and kindness and mercy, for us to share with our broken communities and families and world.
Grace is not something we easily attain or freely give, more often than not.
But Grace is something that we must offer, if for no other reason than that it was extended to us without restraint and at an ultimate price in mercy and in love.
Interested in reading more in our growing up future leaders series?
Click here for raising up humility.
Click here for raising up honesty.