Grace in the Midst. What does that look like in the Christmas season?
The end of September we finally moved into a house. A year and a half after planned. We have had to practice grace in the midst of our crazy life. Living in a small apartment, we had planned to only be in for 2 months, sending all our belongings to storage, and constantly looking for where we were supposed to land…they all had us stretched to our max.
We celebrated two Christmases in our tiny apartment. They were nothing like our “usual” traditions. We had to adapt. For me, mostly it was missing decorating. Those were all in storage.
The first Christmas we left and flew to DC to see my husband’s family. I love his family like my own. I really am extra blessed in the in-law, sister and brother in law situation. They are all amazing.
Traveling and being in someone else’s home for Christmas means adapting and celebrating with their traditions. Their ways. However, fun, however festive – it is still not my own – of my own control. Our time together resulted in one of the most memorable Christmas and New Year’s. The memories could not have been orchestrated or planned. Grace.
The second one we focused on friends and community. I had a small LEGO Christmas tree on the counter and we had experiences instead of stuff- because we had no more room for stuff.
Where we live may change, Christmas presents will come and go, but community is constant. Or at least it should be a constant way of life.
We are not built to do life alone. It is why we talk about finding our “tribe”. Changing the culture of exclusionary bands of humans takes a series of intentional, sometimes small, moments of love. It could begin by buying the guy who complains in line a cup of coffee, returning a frown with a smile, and assuming the best instead of the worst.
Living your life like the warm cup of coffee that tastes the same no matter what the cup looks like from year to year. The vessel may change but the message is the same. Love.
Lots of grace.
As my kids grow and face challenges they are used to my one true mantra, “grace and love”. It is my answer for most everything. How to face that friend conflict, what to do when someone is mean, or how do I get over a disappointing outcome when you put yourself out there.
Grace has no BUT.
Offense has a very large BUT.
No matter what your relationships, family, marriage, living, and work situation the holidays bring out the most stressful situations in us all. Do you do too much? Do you over schedule? Do you choose not to delegate?
How can we move from stress to grace?
I find that choosing to look at people and reactions through 3 lenses can help us to move from offense to grace.
We believe that most offense come from the unspoken thoughts in our heads. Assuming what others intentions, thoughts, and actions could mean can be the first end to any relationship. We challenge you to instead ASK questions. We all interpret based on our life filters. The person in line behind you may have just had the worst news possible. Treat them to a coffee instead of a harsh remark.
We are all imperfect humans. Striving daily to make one more right decision for ourselves, our families, our lives can move us on further on the path to our goals. Our goal is not stopped by OTHERS success. There is plenty to celebrate about each other. We embrace the crazy differences. There is no quota on success in the world. Disappointments will come. Grace gives us the ability to step out of comparison and into compassion for someone else’s pain.
Unless you are an actual judge, give grace. Asking questions and encouraging words go further than casting judgments on others. Assumptions and comparisons can only make this one even worse.
It is very difficult not to let assumptions creep in our thoughts and manifest in our decisions. It is a daily decision to ask the questions, choose to believe the good, and build opinions on fact not emotions
Whew I’m already tired.
So how does this translate to my grace in the midst journey?
It is a choice. Some days I succeed better than others.
Loving those that are hard to love or that have hurt us, does not translate to full access. Boundaries are important. Choosing to not reply to that snarky post, not to air a bad situation in open or simply smiling back is a conscious decision. Sometimes it is second by second. Life is like the melting pot of a coffeehouse packed out with a myriad of people. Working groups, couples, first dates, friends, families….
Do you scowl at the couple on the first date because you just ended a relationship? Or do you send over a cup of hot coco to share?
We have choices as we move through the day to show grace. Small moments that we can control. Big moments will happen in the world. They will seemingly overshadow the small moments of grace. Until the small moments outnumber the hard stuff.
I am thankful for the days when the small moments of grace are too numerous to remember anything else.
Change certainly brings out many opinions.
Moving is no different.
Grace comes in many forms. “Being real” about our circumstance, does not excuse us from choices we need to make to embrace the season. Our emotions do not always follow our choices right away. That is okay. It is the same in the holiday season. Stress, loss of control, unknown outcomes and family histories full of various filters and offenses – the antidote to all is grace.
It is making the choice that matters. In this season of moving, I am thankful for the many relationships that encourage, equip, and love us here in this place. They give us grace when we are short, when we are tired, when we are overwhelmed in the midst of the process.
How can we give grace to our family and community during this holiday season?
Below is a free printable to give you encouragement and ideas of how you can spread grace to your family and friends this season. Grace in the Midst printable