Column: Listening for the voice of grace

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So many of you enjoyed the quote I used last week, I thought I would begin this one with another of his quotes, “Graciousness is more than good manners. It is more than courtesy. It is the etiquette of the soul. True graciousness has such a divine quality we feel it is something that comes through us and not from us.” — Fred Smith

Can you think of a time when you made a mistake, large or small, and where the error could have led to a bigger problem or conflict, yet the person on the receiving end of your mistake gave you grace? Sometimes when we think we have failed someone or something the most or feel like we don’t deserve to receive grace or to be forgiven, we are forgetting the inherent goodness and graciousness found in most people.

As the quote above points out, grace is not something that comes from us, it is something that comes through us and is demonstrated by our actions. Saying the words “I forgive you,” or “Don’t worry, it’s OK,” are a good start, but will be taken as insincere if the actions, body language, and tonality don’t support what is being said.

Have you ever withheld offering grace or forgiveness? When we withhold giving grace to someone, we are actually doing more harm to ourselves than to the person who offended us or who made a mistake that had an impact on our lives. Yet, when we are at fault, we hope that the person we wronged in some way will offer us grace and forgive us. Giving grace is so freeing as it takes a heavy burden of anger or resentment off our shoulders, and we can get back to living our best life as the best version of ourselves.

And when we can get comfortable with giving grace, we will be much more comfortable receiving grace, even when we feel like we deserve it the least. In this context, I am referring to giving and receiving grace as in forgiveness. When we think of the other definitions of grace such as simple elegance or refinement of movement, or courteous goodwill, and then couple those with offering someone grace, it emphasizes or punctuates our sincerity.

There are always more elegant ways and solutions to solve problems, correct mistakes and overcome conflict or adversity. Learning how to live, work and love with graciousness is a tremendously amazing way to do just that. When we can learn to apply elegant solutions during times of interpersonal conflict, it will have the greatest impact on all our relationships.

“Grace is the voice that calls us to change and then gives us the power to pull it off.” - Max Lucado

We all know the feeling of finding it within ourselves to offer grace in the moment we first find out that we have been wronged. We struggle because we want to be so mad and we want to enjoy stewing in our anger for a while, it is our right to be mad, upset, hurt and angry. That is why I love this quote by Max Lucado and lean into the meaning. This quote has more than once been the words I cling to and repeat when something happens or the error made had a negative impact on myself, my family or my friends. I listen for the voice of grace in my head and in my heart.

How does grace show up for you? Is it with a lot of effort or is it with refined movement and elegance? Is there someone you need to offer a little grace to? Is there something you have done where you are expecting or hoping to receive a little grace yourself? I would love to hear your story at mnorton@xinnix.com, and when we listen for the voice of grace, it really will be a better than good year.

Michael Norton is the grateful president of XINNIX, a personal and professional coach, and a consultant, trainer, encourager and motivator to businesses of all sizes.

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