Personally Speaking

by Susannah Friis, Editor The Lake News

I’ve been thinking a lot about grace lately, and the evidence, or lack thereof, in us all. One significant event that has prompted much of this thinking was the quite spectacular display of a severe lack of grace in a certain outgoing president.

Love him or hate him, there’s no getting around the fact that his behaviour in the election defeat has been nothing short of a staggering lack of grace. It’s a great example of how ego and a belief in one’s own invincibility can cause someone to respond in such an ungracious manner to losing.

Most of us who are parents would agree that one of the things we try to instil in our children is how to ‘lose’ well. Life is full of disappointments, let downs and loss. And we do well if, as parents, we teach through word and deed, the art of handling those disappointments graciously and with good will. 

One way I think we become gracious people is when we have a real understanding of equality. Often the people who display the most grace are those who don’t think they are above others and who don’t have an overinflated view of themselves. There is nothing like feeling superior to others to make us interact with others in a completely graceless way.

The people I know who are gracious to a fault are those who, when faced with someone doing them wrong, an unfair ruling, or a disappointment, respond not with histrionics about their rights or privilege but with a calm graciousness than dispels animosity and actually honours the other person. These people don’t think less of themselves, they simply think highly of others.

It would take far too many editions of The Lake News to fill this column with all the times I’ve not responded to people and situations with grace but I have plenty of wonderful examples around me and I try to watch and learn! I do know that the times I find myself responding with less grace than is good, I also notice that I am preoccupied with my ‘to do’ list, worrying about something I can’t control or simply just allowing myself to feel some self pity. What I’m saying in those instances is essentially that what I have going on is more important than what you have going on and that I have a right to behave rudely due to my circumstances. In other words, I’m more full of my own importance than acknowledging that each and every one of us has equal importance.

So, it seems, to foster grace in myself, I need to look outward more than inward, notice others in amongst my ‘busyness’, acknowledge that others might be having a bad day too and to generally be more aware of what is happening outside my tiny bubble of a world. I don’t think we can ever have too much genuine grace. Once we really grasp that we are all equal in worth, we can begin to respond with grace when faced with the ups and downs that this brings us on a regular basis. We will never be able to fully control what life throws at us but we can nearly always control how we respond.

To read more Personally Speaking columns, go here.