Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Graceful Thanksgiving

Today millions of Americans will gather around an abundant table with their loved ones and offer up a prayer of thanksgiving.  We often refer to this as saying Grace.
But in a world filled with imperfect human beings, there are other forms of grace I'd like to take a closer look at this week.
If you look in Webster's Dictionary, the word "grace" has many definitions.  
1. The exercise of love, kindness, mercy, favor; disposition to benefit or serve another; favor bestowed or privilege conferred.

In our lives, there will be many people who will let us down and cause us pain.  By nature, we tend to take it personally and wonder "how could they do that?"  Maybe we didn't deserve the treatment we received from those people.  Maybe they are people who are supposed to love us and put our needs above their own, yet they didn't.  Whatever the situation, we've been mistreated.
I'd like to encourage you to offer these very people the kind of grace defined above.  "Why should I?" you might ask.  Often times, it's not for their benefit, but your own.  When we walk around in a state of judgment, who are we really hurting?  It's ourselves much more than it is the one we hold the judgment against.
The people who have hurt us often never realize the full extent of the pain their actions have caused.  Even if they do, your bitterness doesn't affect them nearly as much as it does yourself.  So by offering grace and forgiveness, you are not excusing the actions that caused the pain.  Instead, you are releasing yourself to move on and live in peace.
I recognize that many of you may be facing family members today who have caused you pain.  Many Americans actually dread the Thanksgiving get-togethers that put them face to face with people who have hurt them in the past.  I'd like to encourage you to offer grace this year.  Let go of the bitterness or the self-protective barriers.  This doesn't mean you need to put yourself in a position to get hurt again by the same person.  But it does mean you will enjoy the freedom of knowing your worth and value lies within YOU, not within what another person can do to you.
2. Beauty, physical, intellectual, or moral; loveliness; commonly, easy elegance of manners; perfection of form.
Conduct yourself with this type of grace.  Strive to be your best, and hold your head up high.  When you do, others will respond in a positive way to your presence.  Sometimes we're tempted to be less than graceful, especially in uncomfortable situations.  But when your presence contains negativity, people will respond to you in a way that is less than desirable.  When you allow yourself to be graceful, people's response to you will be more positive.
3. The divine favor toward man; the mercy of God, as distinguished from His justice; also, any benefits His mercy imparts; divine love or pardon; a state of acceptance with God; enjoyment of the divine favor.
This year, remember that our forefathers came to the New World seeking religious freedom.  We are so blessed to live in a nation where we can all live side by side, no matter what our religious beliefs are.  We can respect one another's concept of God, even if we disagree. 
As for myself, I am a Christian.  I read my Bible daily, and I am grateful for the grace that God pours out on me.  I seek out the grace of a loving God.  And believe me, because I know I am imperfect, I need a heavy dose of that grace!
I am so grateful to live in a country where I can express that freely!  I have so many people that I am close to who have different beliefs.  And it's OK, because we care for each other, respect one another, and don't judge each other.  So many countries don't have that freedom.  Neighbors will kill one another over a difference of religious viewpoints. 
So this Thanksgiving, I encourage you to focus on Grace.  Whichever definition resonates most with you, embrace it!  Live it! 
For life is too short to live without grace.

Until Next Time,

Jacki Semerau © Copyright 2010

Until Next Time, Jacki

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