I grew up with a chip on my shoulder. Not sure why, but I always struggled with people or organizations who tell me what I’m supposed to do, or who I’m supposed to be.
Often, I reacted to people with full blown arrogance in the form of snark, condemnation, or just plain meanness.
I could win arguments, and let you know it.
Coaches called me “hothead.” I was thrown out of volleyball matches in high school and college for mouthing profanities to the referees.
You get the picture.
How Deep is Grace?
But God shows me grace. I say “shows” rather than “showed” because it is continual.
And it took me a long time to figure out what grace is, how it works, and what it sounds like.
Once my father (who’s served as a pastor for over forty years) and I were talking about some theological issue, and I was holding a dogmatic line.
“This is the doctrine, so this must be the way of it, Dad.”
But my dad didn’t say anything. He just looked down, and thought for a moment.
“Well, Tim, the amazing thing about God’s grace is that we can’t know and fully understand how deep it goes.”
We (at least I do) tend to throw the word “grace” around like it’s some kind of Christian get out of jail free card. But I’ve learned that I have a lot to learn about grace.
It’s immeasurableness. It’s origin—God. It’s beauty. How it enfolds so much and so many.
The Sound of Grace
When it comes to relationships, or how we treat others with our tongues, I’ve come to learn that grace possesses a sound.
In my youthful pride, grace wasn’t even on my radar, though I claimed it for my eternal position with God.
Each day, with three young little pixies and my wife, I’m given multiple opportunities to show grace. These opportunities often manifest themselves in how I respond verbally to them.
Too often what I like to call “passion” wells up in me and I want to blurt out an answer or an order; I want to react with my mouth.
Then I think about grace. And I think about how it should sound in a discussion with my wife that continues to escalate. The hothead in me wants to blast words all over the place.
But the Christ in me … he points me to that time in his life when, given the chance to defend himself, he said nothing.
The Silence of Grace
Sometimes, friends or relatives hurt us with their words. They might visit and only talk about themselves, or give us a hard time, or heap verbal harshness upon us.
We want to defend ourselves. Lash out a good one to let them know we’re not weak.
But that’s not grace.
Grace sounds like silence. When harsh words fall on the silence of grace, they birth wonder.
I’m not saying we should let people verbally abuse us. That’s a different topic. I’m talking about letting the grace of God guide our reactions to others.
Often, verbal harshness represents personal hurt.
But if we just protect ourselves from the harshness we miss out on the power of grace. A power that enables us to carry the weight of harshness and seek healing.
For me, most of the times I want to “defend” myself are really just times when I want to be selfish. Because it feels good.
When I feel the hothead simmering, I remind myself: Grace sounds like silence.
Grace is defined as “simple elegance or refinement of movement.”
In the Christian sense, it is “the free unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and bestowal of blessings.”
The ballerina appears to float across the stage; elegant, graceful.
We don’t see the years of rigorous work built into the movement we describe as beautiful.
The sinner (me!) appears to float through life, free to fall, free to fly. How often we forget the blood and life built into the movement we describe as … grace.
Grace sounds like silence. And moves like blessing.