Lately, I have been wondering what would happen if we regularly extended grace-meaning unmerited favor -- to each other regardless of whether it is deserved or has been earned. Over the last eight years my children and I have walked through some very tough times. But, whether it was a casserole left on the back porch, gasoline for our car, money for back to school clothing or an extension to pay a bill, friends and strangers alike have freely extended grace to us again and again. One experience that my children and I had early on our journey is indicative of the outpouring of grace that we have received, and I want to share it with you.
In May 2007, I sold the only home that my children had ever known as part of my divorce. The house sold very quickly leaving me only a few days to find a suitable new home for my children and I. Unfortunately, the only housing that I could find turned out to be anything but suitable. In fact, the apartment community is akin to Animal House and totally inappropriate for families with children. By the end of the following school year, I felt that I had no other choice but to move. I used all of my limited resources to secure our new residence and had no money left to pay movers. A friend, also a single mother, asked an associate minister at her church if he knew anyone who could assist me with moving. It just so happened that a missions group composed of college-age young people from all over the United States was coming to work at her church the same weekend that I was scheduled to move. The associate minister arranged for the young men from the group to spend two hours on Saturday morning moving all of our belongings to our new home. I was shocked because I had never even visited her church and knew nothing about the missions group. I did not understand why a group of people who I did not know would assist me with anything especially moving. In fact, during the week preceding the move I asked my friend repeatedly if she was certain that the missions group was actually coming to help.
As promised on Saturday morning at 9:00 a.m. a Penske truck pulled up to the back of my apartment unit accompanied by approximately 25 young men. After brief introductions, the young men started moving stuff out of the apartment and onto the truck I was speechless. They drove the truck to our new home and unloaded it. Before leaving, the young men thanked my children and I for allowing them to serve us. We were incredibly touched and blown away by the entire experience.
Life is tough and can be unforgiving. Grace sustains us on our journey through the inevitable hard places and difficult seasons. Indeed, grace is more than mercy. Grace strengthens and emboldens us. It softens a hard heart. Grace gives us what I call "bounce back" meaning the power to keep getting up no matter how many times we are knocked down.
So I wonder what would happen if we generously extended grace to each other. Would anger be replaced by joy? Could hate yield to love? Would greed be replaced by benevolence? Perhaps violence would yield to kindness and peace. I strongly believe that an outpouring of grace will cultivate gratitude, forgiveness, forbearance, and compassion in each of us. This is what makes the transforming power of grace so amazing. Tell me, have you experienced grace in your own lives? Would love to hear your stories.
Originally published on MariaShriver.com