Cultivating Room for Grace
Yesterday, when I got up in the morning, I was stressed out and grumpy. And I spent 10 or 15 minutes explaining to myself why I shouldn’t be grumpy. I should be thankful that this thing is true, or that other thing is true, that I don’t have to do that thing, or that other thing. And as I was watching myself justify to myself all of the myriad ways my life could be worse, and thinking about all of the myriad problems that I didn’t have, I realized something important: I was crowding out grace.
So first, what kind of grace am I talking about? I’m talking about that miraculous quality of the Holy, allowing us to see more clearly the reality of the moment, and the power to allow what is to just be. And then, just when you don’t expect it, joy comes around the corner, right after grace has been by.
But allowing room for grace has to be cultivated, because there are all sorts of things that can get in our way. Just like I did yesterday, even things that might seem helpful at first – finding ways to be thankful for what we have, can be counterproductive. I was so busy telling myself that I shouldn’t feel grumpy and stressed, that I stayed grumpy and stressed until I just let myself feel grumpy and stressed. Because its totally OK to feel grumpy and stressed, or sad, or angry, or anxious. And when we allow ourselves to just feel how we feel, when we get rid of all of that stuff that tells us how we shouldn’t feel, we allow room for grace. What’s important about this is that allowing ourselves to feel how we are feeling means that we’re actually better at dealing with it. We’re better at acknowledging what’s real, but not acting out of it.
So now to the cultivation part – how do we cultivate room for grace? I know one way, although I know there are others. Cultivating room for grace involves a number of things. It involves cultivating our ability to notice – cultivating our awareness. It also involves cultivating our willingness to let the Spirit work within us. We can do this through silent prayer, or other practices. Those practices help us to quiet our minds, they open the door to God, and they allow us, over time, to get better and better at leaving room for grace.