Gift and Grace
A friend of mine is going through a mid-life career transition and asked me to be a reference for him as he applies for jobs and considers his course for the next stage of the journey. Today, I was reading over his response to a series of questions about his biography and his theology, and was stopped in my tracks by this paragraph.
I have been learning little by little that there is an unrepeatable gift and grace in the life of each person and in each circumstance regardless of race, culture and creed, or of how broken, wounded, or sin damaged the person or circumstance might be. The depth I can know this in others is only as deep as I know it in myself and in my own circumstances. The recognition and affirmation of this truth is often the beginning of healing and transformation.
There is an unrepeatable gift and grace in the life of each person.
People who are easy to like and people who are not. People who are inspiring and influential, and people who are irritating and energy-sucking. People for whom grace seems like second nature, and people who seem to have an angry, grimy cloud of anger and resentment that follows around everywhere they go. The merciful and the entitled. The kind and the proud. The selfless and the selfish. The peacemakers and the conflict escalators. The self-assured and the perpetual victims. The givers and the takers.
There is an unrepeatable gift and grace in the life of each person. If we will take the time to look, to call it out, to tend and nurture it.
The depth I can know this in others is only as deep as I know it in myself and in my own circumstances
This part is perhaps the harder part. Do we believe that we, ourselves, are channels of gift and grace? That we exist because of a love that precedes, surrounds and sustains, and draws us forward? That we are and can be a source of goodness and peace to those around us? Or, do we secretly (or not so secretly) believe that our lives are a curse and not a gift to those around us, that we are channels not of grace but of grim judgment and the placing of heavy burdens?
My friend’s response quoted above seems wiser and more profound each time I read and re-read it. We cannot see truly see each person we encounter as gift and grace if deep down we cannot see ourselves as a conduit of these same things.
Which makes sense, I suppose, given that the great commandment is to love God with all that we have and all that we are, and to love our neighbour as ourselves. This is, as my friend wisely states, the path to healing and transformation. Because it is the path to and from God.
The image above is taken from the 2014-15 Christian Seasons Calendar. It is a piece entitled “Grace,” by Candice Canessa.