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Grace & Gratitude | Kindness & Goodness

November reminds me of my seasons of waiting, and my seasons of struggling. It's the sometimes awkward, in-between space of Halloween's end while waiting for my favorite time of year - Christmas. It's easy to look past this month, especially with Hallmark movies on repeat, Christmas decor stacked to the ceilings in every store I walk into, and more and more people hopping on the early Christmastime celebrations. I'm all for it, don't get me wrong. But there's something special within the seasons of waiting that we can easily miss if we aren't careful. So instead of rushing through the uncomfortable feelings of wrestling and waiting, let's sit together at the table of grace & gratitude. It's a safe space where we'll learn how to navigate life by first defining grace and gratitude in practical ways, and later, learn how to apply it to our lives, and how to extend it to others.

I'm so thankful you're at the table with me.

 

I hear the phrase, 'give yourself grace' everywhere and all the time. It's on my Instagram and Facebook feeds with cutesy lettering; I'm reminded of it by my enneagram and mental health coaches when the perfectionist in me speaks too loudly, and I often repeat it to myself without really stopping to think what grace actually means. When paired with gratitude, it can feel like a wonky combination of words that sound nice on the outside, but have lost their meaning on the inside. Like, pretty phrases that everyone seems to cling to without knowing what we're actually clinging to. Does this sound familiar?

To begin this series, I wanted to pull inspiration from one of my favorite authors of all time, Lysa TerKeurst. In her books, she takes words that seem familiar and researches their meanings in the original Greek and Hebrew. I'm often blown away by what she finds, and how she's able to bring tangible advice through common words and phrases. Hope you don't mind, Lysa, I'm stealing your idea!


The meaning of 'grace' in Hebrew is 'Chen', which means:

graciousness, beauty, to bend or stoop in kindness


The meaning of 'grace' in Greek is 'Charis', which means:

gratitude, favor, a gift, blessing, thanks, kindness


Wow! I don't know about you, but when I read, "to bend or stoop in kindness", grace now seems a little less ambiguous and a little more tangible. 'Give yourself grace' sounds a little more like, 'give yourself kindness' or 'bend low in your pain, your emotions, your struggles and give yourself kindness'. If you're a Christian like me, I'm sure you've heard the phrase, 'grace upon grace' more times than you can count. No matter your religious or spiritual affiliation, I think there's something super cool about learning who God is through the study of words and phrases by researching their meanings in their original languages; and of course, this phrase is no exception. 'Grace upon grace' can be rephrased to mean:


kindness upon kindness

beauty upon beauty

favor upon favor

thankfulness upon thankfulness

blessings upon blessings


Honestly, this could be its own topic to sit with and talk through. It's so rich and there's so much to learn within the hidden meanings of grace, but defining gratitude will prove to be just as important. It brings to life its own world of meanings and inspiration, and it's something we shouldn't miss.


The meaning of 'gratitude' in Hebrew is 'Hakarat HaTov', which means:

recognizing the good, recognizing goodness


The meaning of 'gratitude' in Greek is 'evgnomosýni,' which means:

thankfulness, grateful, beholden


Okay, not gonna lie, I had to look up the definition of 'beholden' since I had no clue what it meant. I think you'll agree that it wholly defines gratitude in such a beautiful way:


beholden (adj.) • be·​hold·​en | being under obligation for a gift or favor; indebted


We owe it to ourselves to see the good and recognize the goodness in our lives.

We owe it to each other to see the good and beauty in others.

We owe it to God and the Universe to see the goodness and beauty they so freely give.

We owe it to the world to see its beauty and its favor.

We owe it to ourselves and others to stoop and bend low in kindness.

We are under obligation to receive the greatest gift we could ever be given: grace.

 

Today was overwhelming. I felt disempowered from the amount of healing I've done, and my emotions were on overdrive. But I bent low in kindness toward myself, and I gave myself grace. Since this past weekend, I've been struggling with deep emotions I thought I had healed from, and I was having PTSD flashbacks. For those who aren't familiar with what these consist of, imagine reliving traumatic moments over and over again knowing logically that you're safe, but feeling emotionally exposed and vulnerable. Memories don't feel like memories. They feel like vivid recreations of events that caused major trauma. For some people, flashbacks can include physical violence, moments of terror, verbal assault and abuse, sexual assault and abuse, or other heavy triggers. For me, it's a mixture of all those things.

Today, I woke up feeling utterly drained from carrying the weight of my PTSD triggers. I felt powerless; my mind kept racing, and I remember thinking to myself, "this hurts too much." Can I be honest with you? There are some people in my family who are entirely chaotic and horrible for my mental health. I wish that it was as easy as loving them from a distance - and at times I've had to do that. I've learned that life isn't always black and white, and sometimes, the best decision in one season of life might not be the best in another. That being said, those people have re-entered my life, and since my little sister's mental health is also at stake, I'm doing what I have to do to keep the peace.

This morning, I stood at my refrigerator, crying hysterically, repeating out loud to my cat, "I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry." Yes, I apologized to my sweet, patient cat who just wanted her breakfast served without the soggy kibble (I'm doing my best, Harley, okay?!). From my trauma, I've believed the lie that tells me I'm only worth what I do, what I accomplish, and how I perform. "I'm not worthy. I'm not doing enough. I can't keep up. People only pretend to like me. I can't help my sister. There's nothing I can do to help. Why do they reject me over and over again?" On and on the thoughts kept racing, and it sent me into a panic attack - the first one I've had in over a year. I cried. I slept. I talked to people that care about me. I bravely admitted (okay, ugly cried) through my struggles on social media, which is something I don't typically do. But I was brave, and I bent low in kindness toward myself.

Now, let me point out, I don't want to wash over the heavy moments or gloss over them with a feel-good message. That kind of approach hardly reaches the hearts of people, and more often than not, creates the false idea that pain should be neatly kept and easy to pack away. Let me say this, friend: it's not. It's not easy or tidy. I get it. Life is messy. People are messy. Processing hurt is messy. I've been there, and in some ways, still am. Reaching through the pain and sitting with the mess is the most beautifully gracious thing we can give ourselves. Deep hurts can start to be seen as potential gifts where we have the capacity for a little more compassion for ourselves and for other people. But we have to sit with it first. We have to bend and stoop low in the uncomfortable places of wrestling, processing, and healing.

Grace doesn't explain the pain away. Grace invites healing and purpose. Grace sits in patience and understanding. Grace knows that things should be better than they are. Grace gives room for struggles. Grace reaches in to comfort during the seasons of wrestling and waiting. Grace bends low in the heaviest places of our hearts, extends kindness, and recognizes the good that our pain will eventually lead us to. Grace gives beauty when all we see are ashes. Grace teaches us to have gratitude for perseverance knowing that God and The Universe are more than able to use it for good - and they will. Pain, hurt, and the struggles of waiting for things to be made right never have the final say. Grace and gratitude do.

kindness upon kindness

beauty upon beauty

favor upon favor

thankfulness upon thankfulness

blessings upon blessings

grace upon grace

gratitude upon gratitude

 

Sources:

[1] Shaw, Ali. “Charis, the Greek Word for Grace.” Do Not Depart, 12 Apr. 2016, donotdepart.com/charis-the-greek-word-for-grace.

[2] Misfitministries. “What Does The Word ‘Grace’ Mean In Hebrew And Greek?” Misfit Ministries, 14 Mar. 2021, misfitministries.org/grace-hebrew-and-greek.

[3] “Hebrew Roots/The Original Foundation/Grace - Wikibooks, Open Books for an Open World.” Wikibooks, en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Hebrew_Roots/The_original_foundation/Grace. Accessed 5 Nov. 2021.

[4] Wikipedia contributors. “Hakarat HaTov.” Wikipedia, 28 Aug. 2021, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hakarat_HaTov.

[5] “Beholden.” The Merriam-Webster.Com Dictionary, www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/beholden. Accessed 5 Nov. 2021.

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1 comentário


I think this topic is going to teach me a lot. I so enjoy reading your posts! Thank you!

Curtir
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