Norton: A return to grace
Listening to the conversation around a business dinner table, I found myself trying to stay away from the conversation as it began to center around what was wrong with society and basically the world in general. If you are a regular reader of this column, you know that I try and remove myself as quickly as possible from anything I perceive as negativity, and this conversation was devolving quickly in that direction.
Remaining quiet and checking my phone to try and avoid being drawn into the discussion didn’t quite work out the way I had hoped. Before I knew it, the group turned their attention to me and asked me what I thought. The good news is that I was already prepared with my response. It’s my same response whenever I find the people around me focusing on what is wrong with the world instead of what is right.
After placing my phone on the table, I looked around the table and one by one, I made eye contact with everyone before saying, “A return to grace.” I will share that whenever I give that response the first reaction is usually confusion, followed by cynicism, and then possibly a little mocking, questioning my sincerity. Standing my ground, I made it a point to once again make eye contact with everyone before restating my position, “Yes, you all heard me correctly, a return to grace.”
Remaining silent once again, I waited for someone to ask me what it means to return to grace. And it never fails, someone will always ask me to elaborate on that statement.
Returning to grace means that we give everyone the same grace that we would expect when we screw up. I haven’t met the person, the company, the politician, or anyone else who hasn’t screwed up royally. And I include myself among the elite when it comes to making mistakes. I am pretty sure I am close to the top, if not at the top, when it comes to screwing up.
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Is society and the world at large teetering on the precipice of total chaos and anarchy? OK, maybe that is a little dramatic, but then again maybe not. Are there people whose actions and words are driving us crazy? Absolutely. Do we sit stunned as we read or watch the news, wondering, “What idiot thought that was a good idea?” Or maybe we just let the anger and resentment fester inside of us until it reaches a boiling point or creates an ulcer. And then we share our outrage with anyone who will listen. And even if there is no one to listen, we go on a rant on social media, posting our anger and frustration, continuing to carry the weight of what’s wrong with the world on our shoulders.
A return to grace means that instead of playing the blame game, we play the love and forgiveness game. I know, I know, I have heard it before that this is not a realistic approach in dealing with the nonsense and idiotic decisions being made and the ridiculous actions of those who we do not agree with. And everyone is entitled to their own opinions. My opinion and position are that I would rather live in the spirit of love and forgiveness as opposed to harboring anger, resentment, and frustration relative to the things that I have absolutely no control over. And if you still disagree with me, or think I am a bit too naïve, then maybe this can be your first attempt at offering me some grace.
Will society ever be perfect? No. Will people ever be without fault? No. Will the world ever get back to what the majority of us would call normal? Maybe, maybe not. But wouldn’t it be a better place if we all figured how to offer love and forgiveness instead of spite and hostility? As always, I would love to hear your story at email@example.com and when we can truly make that leap towards a return to grace, it really will be a better-than-good life.
Michael Norton is an author, a personal and professional coach, consultant, trainer, encourager, and motivator of individuals and businesses, working with organizations and associations across multiple industries.