Last post, I wrote about unconditional love. After reading Philip Yancey’s book, “What is so amazing about grace”, I decided that another phrase for unconditional love is grace. I see it as love, given and received regardless of differences between giver and receiver, regardless of perfection or imperfection.
In Rosamund and Benjamin Zander’s “The Art of Possibility”, a book we used as text in Professor Nancy Adler’s the Art and Leadership class during my MBA at McGill. I would liken grace to “Giving an A”. This means everyone is rated excellent, regardless of their past performance. The book says, the “A” is not an expectation to live up to but a possibility to live into. I think that is grace and I am not 100% clear on how that would play out in a business or work-related situation where excellent performance is critical.
In my mind, love transcends feelings and is not an emotion. To me, love is an active word that describes actions not feelings and is the greatest need I have as a human/spirit being. I think love is that which I most need to give and that which I most need to receive.
Often though, I question what love has to do with business and work related interactions and transactions. I question what place there is for grace in my day-to-day activities, in my interactions with family, staff, clients, fellow volunteers.
There is often a struggle in me to limit grace, love to certain situations and domains, like when I am in church or serving the elderly, serving the homeless, giving to starving children in developing countries, more graceful situations but not the everyday situations.
There are also times when grace tends to be far from my thinking, like when I get cut off in traffic by a Montreal driver or when my 2-year old daughter wants my attention at the same time I am trying to send an important email that requires 100% focus.
If I think that my life is compartmentalized into the spiritual and non-spiritual, the mundane and the transcendental, then it may be possible to make a case to exclude grace, love from those situations that seem not to require it, like a business transaction.
However, I also often consider that I am a human/spirit being, regardless of what I may be doing or what situation I may be in at any point in time. I never stop being a spirit in need of giving and receiving grace at any point in time or space.
If my greatest need is to give and receive grace, then no interaction, no situation I may be in should keep me from “dispensing” (in Philip Yancey’s words) and receiving grace. I need to dispense and receive grace at work, to staff, clients, suppliers, regardless of differences and imperfections. I need to dispense and receive grace at home, at church and among fellow volunteers.
The giving and receiving of grace, of love, need to go together. I don’t want to receive without any opportunity to give and I don’t want to give without receiving. For my health, the giving and receiving of grace needs to be unlimited.
It is easier at times to show grace and kindness to those far removed from me than those I interact with most frequently. It is easier to try to save seals and polar bears and starving children in remote places than to habitually dispense grace to those who are so close to me.
But the people with whom I live and work are those who are most in need of grace from me and from whom I am most in need of grace, not just some far away “worthy cause”.
I have a need to make grace not limited to the spiritual, the distant. I have a need to include the immediate and mundane among situations that call for grace and love. In the words of Brennan Manning in Abba’s Child, “my ordinary self is my extraordinary self”. Maybe we can also say that ordinary situations are extraordinary situations. Mundane situations are noble. So, grace can be unlimited.
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