Grace comes in so many forms. An unexpected gift; a word of encouragement; a smile–all are welcomed expressions of the heart to brighten our days. Grace seamlessly covers another’s embarrassment. Kindness recognizes a struggle and comes alongside to help. Graciousness is a greenhouse of peace, cocooning the heart in warmth, while waiting for the fruit of human kindness to grow. Grace is as necessary to a person’s well-being as food, water and sleep.
Yet, all around us lies the garden of “Mary-Quite-Contrary,” overgrown with “snakes, snails and puppy-dog tails.” This is the territory marked by self-centeredness and abrasiveness. Its caretakers have often been hurt or mistreated; and, rather than finding healing, they have turned their misfortunes into lifestyles, perpetuating hurt, abuse, anger and closed-off personalities.
The one practice sure to elevate the human spirit above childish self-absorption is the regular expression of gratitude. When an individual daily rehearses all the good things in her life, taking a moment to thank the Creator for His kindness and care, something amazing begins to happen. Thanks-giving begets Grace-giving. A look outside of self on a routine basis, causes the heart to recognize the good, pleasant, kind and delectable things of life and fuels the desire to spread that enjoyment around!
Graciousness is intentional. It does not happen by chance. A heart filled with kindness and grace is wide-open, looking for an opportunity to love or serve. That opening in the heart is widened through the discipline of thanks-giving. When we acknowledge the good and dear qualities of life as gifts from Father God, our hearts expand like Ebenezer Scrooge’s on Christmas Eve and we awaken from our nightmare of selfishness, looking for the first Tiny Tim to rescue with an act of kindness.
When we give thanks we acknowledge God and His important Role in our lives. When we give grace, we have taken on God’s nature and demonstrate our gratitude in an entirely different way.
A gracious heart is limitless. Hearts designed for giving and loving have unlimited storage capacities. Expressing godly grace is releasing the eternal. Grace is Heaven touching Earth. When we put our arms around a single mom to bring comfort and hope; when we prepare a meal and carry it to a hungry neighbor; when we bring extra bags of groceries home from the grocery store and put them in someone else’s pantry; when we forgive those who have been momentarily unkind toward us and give them a smile instead of a scowl, we are making God, The Father of All, so very proud.
Our acts of graciousness are the ultimate expression of Thanksgiving. Words of thanksgiving spoken once a year around a table are a nice beginning. But, a lifestyle of smiling and giving and serving and forgiving, well that is our saying 1,000 times over, how very much we appreciate the immeasurable, unfathomable, perpetual, undeserved, amazing grace shown to us daily by Father God.