Tag Archives: grace

That Crazy Character

Someone wise and dear to me has often said, “People reveal their character in big and small ways.”

Like the driver of the red Subaru I saw the other day on Market Street hit a parked car and quickly drive away, or that storeowner who started a fundraising campaign for the guy who stole money from the tip jar. A small cheat in a friendly poker game, or the big decision to cheat on a spouse. Standing up against friends for bullying someone weaker, or caring for an abusive parent at life’s end. Character – the better or the worse – has a lot of ingredients of varying measure. Grace is one of those ingredients. Another someone wise and dear to me has said:

“You show grace when you show restraint.”

I’ve been on the receiving end of graceful restraint a number of times, and I can testify to it’s impact.

When I was 22, I made an impatient left turn at a light and hit a guy nearly head on. He was driving a brand new red Honda Civic. Still had temporary tags. I got out of my car, shaking, crying, ready to get reamed out for my youthful irresponsibility and crushing his brand spanking, pricey new paperweight. “Are you okay?” is what he said. “Are you serious?” is what I thought. In three kind words, that guy turned what could have been the worst day of my young years into an incredible lesson about showing grace toward someone who deserves far less.

Some 22 years later, dancing with my mom’s class in her dance recital, I did the right step at the wrong time and wound up facing the back when everyone else was facing front. They’d worked really hard on that number, and I was the more experienced dancer just having a good time with my mom. They had every reason to be annoyed. I would have been. But they already knew how bad I felt, and didn’t say a word. Their grace right then taught me how much more important kindness is than perfection.

You show grace when you show restraint. There’s no need to beat somebody up when they’re already down.

Thing is, people we don’t know are rude or greedy or inconsiderate at times, and people we love and care about hurt us and disappoint us sometimes. And it would feel really, really good to give them all the full explosive blast of that piece of mind we feel so entitled to give. Not that helpful truth isn’t important – it is – but it can be delivered with grace. And for me (I know, because I’ve tried it a few times), what feels really good for a single moment keeps me from sleeping for more than a few nights. Because in my haste and failure to show just a little grace, I reveal a lot of poor character in myself I don’t want to know is there.

I had an opportunity recently to return some of the grace that’s been shown me in the past. I thought of red Honda Civic guy and the ladies in my mom’s dance class. I thought of those words of encouragement – “you show grace when you show restraint.” I thought of the character I wanted someone else to see in me, and that I wanted to see in myself. I hope I did Grace justice.