Grace and “Goodness” Glasses

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. – Ephesians 4:32 NIV

Another argument. Another hurt. Another day.

He said, she said, and they did, what?

Around and around, the craziness goes.

Sometimes the ride is short-lived, which is great, because it stunk, and your not sure how you got on in the first place.

Other times, it’s a drawn out tour you got sucked into, and there’s no place to get off. You’re strapped in your seat with no end in sight, and the same annoying tune seems to play over and over again.

You ask yourself how you got into this mess, and how you can get out, but the real question is…

How can I keep myself from ever getting on the ride at all?

Well my friend, you’ll need two things.

Grace and “goodness” glasses.

Grace is the unmerited, undeserved, and wholly unreasonable favor bestowed upon us by our Almighty Father in Heaven. You can’t earn it, buy it, or trade your lunch for it.

photo: Raye Wortel

photo: Raye Wortel

Grace is a partnership. In order for it to work to the glory of God, there must be a giver and a receiver, a grantor and a beneficiary. It flows down and out, in and through.

God is the only true Teacher of grace. We may hand out grace like we hand out popsicles on a hot summer day, but unlike our Creator, our grace tends to come with limits, conditions, and catch-22’s.

If we’re going to learn about grace, we’ve got to get our nose and heart into the Good Book, and dig around for precious jewels like…

Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. – John 1:16

And all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. – Romans 3:24

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich. – 2 Corinthians 8:9

Grace is the intangible gift that changes everything.

I sometimes have trouble getting my head around grace, but I’ve learned it must be given out beyond what makes sense. When every shred of ego, self-preservation, and pride have been cut to ribbons and lay on the floor, then you’ve given the tiniest drop of what God doles out in gobs.

If you want your relationships to thrive, grace must be present. And don’t even think about waiting for the other person to dish it out. This is a good time to be first.

The next thing you need are “goodness” glasses.

“Goodness” glasses are spectacles for the heart, and like regular eyeglasses – they are instruments of clarity.

photo: Raye Wortel

photo: Raye Wortel

Time and familiarity with another person creates a sort of murkiness by which we view them. Sometimes, their thoughtfulness looks like masked bitterness, praise is mistaken for judgement, or good will is confused for animosity.

We see them as companions with ulterior motives, or unexpressed agendas that aren’t really there.

Goodness glasses clears our heart’s “vision”, and allows us to recognized our friends and loved ones as well-intentioned people.

They (like you) didn’t wake up this morning concocting ways to ruin your day. Confrontation and bickering are generally not motivating (for socially and relationally healthy people anyway). Yet we often respond to their words or actions as if they are trying to hurt us on purpose.

I believe people, for the most part, are good. It’s CHOOSING to see them as good, that makes good relationships great, and bad relationships better.

Of course there are exceptions, those who have deep troubles, but the majority of us have entered into a relationship with another person based on one characteristic – kindness.

It was their smile, handshake, or friendly word or deed that opened the door. For whatever reason, they exhibited kindness towards us, we accepted it, and the relationship bloomed.

And though time, circumstances, and the grinding of life may have roughened up the edges, kindness still exists within them.

But it’s so hard to see the good, so much hurt and pain stand in the way.

I get it. I’ve been there, and wouldn’t suggest seeing them as well-intentioned people if I didn’t try it myself and witnessed miraculous results.

Seeing the good in others when pain is present is tough business, but I bet their wish would be:

“If you can’t see the good in me, just see me as good.”

Relationships are messy and hard, but they don’t have to stay broken or just limping along. Be the Starter. Offer grace when it’s feels impossible. See others as good, even when bad is that’s in front of you.

Give up your right to yourself, and God will take care of you. He did it for me – he’ll do it for you.

“What we see depends mainly on what we look for.” -John Lubbock

“Don’t call the world dirty because you forgot to clean your glasses.” -Aaron Hill

“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” -Henry David Thoreau

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