Someone asked me, recently, about the title of my blog. I gave an explanation of “Grace and Space” in my first blog post. But that’s long buried in my archives at this point. So to answer the question of what that phrase really means, here’s the story:
A few years ago, when my son was 21 and we were having difficulties transitioning through some young adult issues, I had an epiphany one day: he needed grace from me, and space to be allowed to work out his issues. And that phrase has continued to have a useful place in my life, as I often feel that I either need these gifts for myself (from others), or I need to extend these gifts. Like most catchy phrases, it’s easy to say, more difficult to do in the grip of the moment, whatever the issue, and whoever the others involved.
The point of this blog is recognizing that there are many grace notes in life…some come from and through others, some just seem to be gifts that come when needed, and bring a smile, comfort, hope…or perhaps understanding. As most people instinctively recognize good things, recording these experiences may seem unnecessary. But I believe that when I consciously mark joys in my life, I increase their power. If the experience is one of personal luxury, I can repeat it when possible. If grace comes from someone or something as a random kindness or event, I can appreciate it more fully by acknowledging and being grateful for the gift I’ve received.
These bring a smile to my face: my family, a good book, a moving quote, a phone call or email from a friend, comfort food, shopping in a favorite store, sunshine…grace is all around us, in many forms. We have only to open our eyes to see, and our spirits to receive.
I have a need to nurture. I’ve known that for a long time, but I’m sometimes embarrassed to admit it. Does this mean I’m not done mothering? Or am I somehow seeking to make myself necessary to others by providing comfort? I like to bake, and I frequently take food to work to share. Does this mean that I’m needy, looking for approval? It can be confusing. Am I giving comfort, or seeking it?
Well, like many answers in life, I’m guessing the truth is somewhere in the middle. I am giving comfort with food, or by doing a favor, or by…(fill in the blank here). And of course I enjoy the approval that comes my way when my food is appreciated, or I know I’ve made a difference in someone’s day by helping out.
But I also think the answer is more complex than either of these obvious choices. The truth is, I am comforted and nurtured when I give to others. That doesn’t make me a saint or anything special. In fact, it could be argued that because this behavior feeds me emotionally, my giving is more about me than others. But it’s really a nice balance between the two. Everyone has strengths, and I believe that strength is a reflection of behavior or attitude that flows naturally. My strength reflects my core.
I know people who are wonderful leaders, decision-makers, clear-thinking and strong enough to create their vision for work, mission, family. I know others who are detail oriented, dedicated to seeing the smallest task through to completion. I know people who dream big and see the goal to be met. Each personality has strength, and mine happens to be sharing comfort, nurturing when I can, in small ways or large.
It took me a long time to accept that about myself, to recognize bringing comfort to others as a strength. It seemed like I was just being nice, when all along, I was being strong. Good to know!