Grace, Forgiveness, and Thankfulness

Posted: April 6, 2015 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,

Originally from the Magical Mysteries Collection published in The Daily Journal, later published on both Yahoo Contributor Network, August 9, 2008, and Persona Paper, removed from both.

After getting approval from parents to pray before meals in my day care, as was the custom of the other children already there, we sat down for our first meal together with our new kids.

“Who wants to say grace?” I asked.

Four-year old Shianne threw her arm into the air, waving excitedly. “I do! I do!”

“OK, Shianne, go ahead.”

With head bowed, eyes closed, and hands folded together, Shianne proclaimed, “GRACE!”

Like so many words in the English language, grace has several meanings. Along with being a name, it is also part of a title that addresses royalty (“Your Grace”), and the prayer said before meals gives the impression that grace and thanks are synonymous.

The word grace was originally defined as being in God’s favor, implying that God would bless his favored ones with divine assistance. Today grace also means pleasing, charming, grateful, approval, favor, mercy, pardon, and more.

But one meaning, being in God’s favor, is worth considering. Since one of the definitions of grace means to pardon, one could assume that forgiveness is a component of grace. And since gratitude is also a definition, one could assume that being grateful is also an element of grace. Therefore, learning forgiveness and thankfulness may result in possessing grace.

Forgiving is a conscious decision that requires effort and faith. Knowing that you have a choice – to hold a grudge or to forgive – is a powerful feeling. Holding grudges keeps the object of our grudge in our minds, ever present, and always at the ready for any vengeful act we wish to enforce.

But grudges prevent us from growing spiritually. And grudges keep fears alive. We fear letting go of the grudge, because in our minds, the people who betray or hurt us are responsible and should be held accountable for our pain. By letting go, we may give them the impression that their behavior is acceptable to us. So we hang onto the grudge, because forgiving may mean forgetting, and we don’t ever want to forget.

Forgiving requires us to understand that we are all human and that we all make mistakes. Even when the people who hurt us feel no remorse or sorrow for the pain they inflict, we still improve our own lives by finding it within ourselves to forgive.

Forgiveness grants us freedom. Absence of vengeance frees our spirits to move forward. And the fortitude required of us in the process of forgiving strengthens our will and perseverance.

According to Mahatma Ghandi, “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” And Joseph Jacobs, critic, scholar, and historian, believes that, “forgiveness is the highest and most difficult of all moral lessons,” even, and maybe especially, when we forgive ourselves.

Faith may require us to realize that those who hurt us also help us by providing a reason for us to learn a valuable lesson, how to forgive.

Thankfulness, another aspect of grace, requires us to focus on those things and people in our lives for which we are grateful. Sometimes in the midst of adversity, we forget about people we take for granted: family and friends.

By being genuinely grateful for the people and blessings in our lives, we may discover that we truly are graced with divine assistance (to forgive is divine).

God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one to say “thank you”? ~ William A. Ward


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