Words matter, but so does grace.
I know words matter. Now, I am guilty of downplaying how much words matter when other people react to words they don’t like, but then reacting dramatically to hearing things I don’t like. I am imperfect when it comes to all of this, but we seriously can’t continue this way anymore.
If words matter, then we have to understand that everyone is learning which words matter. We all start somewhere, so demanding immediate and perfect perfection is unfair and ridiculous. It also can lead to self-destructive tendencies because you end up with countless words & topics that immediately infuriate you. I believe that it sets you up for failure in that way.
Yes, we should be careful with what we say and how we say it (since our words matter) — freedom of speech is not free of consequences. But we shouldn’t be scared to speak our minds! That seems to be the world we live in now. It seems like everything is stifled out of fear and that leads to poor communication skills, bad and one-sided conversations, and anger/fear/frustration for everyone.
Here’s the thing — our feelings are not facts (they are our facts, but not facts). Feeling hurt by others’ words does not automatically mean that the other person was intending to be hurtful. Feelings merely provide information, but in a very important way. They tell us that maybe something is wrong, and maybe we should investigate. Our feelings are a completely subjective experience that only we have control over — no one else can tell us if we are feeling a certain way. And no one should.
Feelings are valid. But they are still merely feelings, so being able to separate feelings from facts is important. It’s very weird because those seem like opposing viewpoints, but if we expect other people to be able to separate their feelings from facts, then we need to allow them to have those feelings and come to understand them. And all of this involves a lot of grace. We as humans only have so much to give, but it’s still something we need to check ourselves on every time. And at the very same time…we need to be gracious towards ourselves & know that imperfection will likely happen in our endeavors to be gracious towards others. Plus, we have to be gracious towards others in knowing that their gracious-ness can also be limited! Whew. That’s a lot to unpack.
Grace needs to be more present in our lives today now that everything is accessible by the touch of a button. I mean, we’ve made machines that fart on command! I think we need to get back to our human-ness, we need to get away from the goal of instant gratification and immediate wrath for everything. And that happens with more grace for others. The realists need to be gracious towards the people who are struggling to handle their feelings. The passionate need to be gracious towards the people who are struggling to understand what feelings even are. The idealists, pessimists, realists (are the previous two the same thing?), high-achievers, goofballs, etc. — all need to give and receive more grace.
Grace actually has a few different definitions:
1. the free and unmerited favor [of God]
2. courteous goodwill
3. a period officially allowed for payment of a sum due or for compliance with a law or condition, especially an extended period granted as a special favor
Grace strikes me as: being kind to others, giving a little bit more, relaxing the guidelines, being more gentle. The most interesting thing about grace is that it’s oftentimes undeserved. I talk a lot about being gracious to yourself and that’s a little bit different because I feel like we tend to be either really hard on ourselves or really easy on ourselves. But when it comes to others — in the Christian belief, God is gracious towards us even though it’s undeserved. In legal terms, it can be extra time given as a favor. In simple person-to-person terms — it’s usually given out of the kindness of our own hearts. However, it is limited. So we’ve got to find that balance and give grace, but also acknowledge that everyone has a limit that they can give in return.
It’s not easy. For example, I get frustrated when people are quick to anger or act on their emotions, but I’m not immune to that myself. I’m far from perfect, but I really believe that our intent matters so much. And I mean, one could even say that absolutely no one deserves grace, and just scratch this entire thing I wrote, but — I guess it depends if you see all humans as innately evil with good parts, or the other way around? So it’s not a hard and fast rule because there is quite a lot of evil-ness in the world, but…I feel like grace is something we need more than ever right now.