Guest Author - Cara Newman
Grace, defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as "unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification", is the driving force for spiritual renewal. Although it surrounds the human existence, many of us overlook this precious divine force and disregard it as "pure luck" or another random event in our chaotic lives. Why? You might ask. Why do so many of us intensely wishing for better lives during our moments of spiritual pain, but then ignore the opportunity when the loving divine power extends its assistance to ease our suffering? Overpowered by pain and self-doubt are some of the factors account for the disregard of grace.
Pain is an undeniable factor of human lives. While we are given the opportunity to celebrate the beauty of life, we are also called to many spiritual rebirths through challenging experiences, often via the experience of pain. No human likes pain, and no one will volunteer for painful events. However, it is through these sometime seemingly overwhelming suffering, we are greeted by our true strength. It is also through these moment of unbearable pain, the window of our soul becomes humble enough to open for grace. Unfortunately, when we embody our pain and allow it to consume our being, the window for grace shuts tightly. We shut it tightly because we stop trusting life, and we do not think we can take on any more pain. Grace is like the sun shining on our spirit while we keep it locked impermeably in the dark cave. Only when we are trusting enough to let go, we then can experience the warmth of grace.
Grace is not when someone knocks on your front door and tell you that you have won the million dollar sweepstake while you are absolutely broke... although it might happen. Grace is not when you wake up one day and discover that you have instantly lost that forty pounds you have forever meant to shed. For me, grace comes through noticing the simple acts of kindness, and embracing the synchronicity and beauty of life. Although some may argue otherwise, I believe that no life is created randomly. Every moment of our lives is mapped out precisely for growth and the revolution of our soul. Embracing grace on our spiritual path is to notice all the good in our lives regardless of our circumstances. A simple smile from a stranger or a phone call from an old friend when we need it the most are examples of grace in action. Grace is simply the promise of the opportunity for the regeneration of our soul. Opportunity is a precious thing, because not everyone at every moment is granted another chance. Sadly, when we are wrapped up in our pain, we cannot see anything good but our own suffering.
Another factor that contributes to our tendency to dismiss grace is our deep rooted self-doubt. How many of us have actually become the person in the "When I grow up, I want to be ...." essay that all of us had written when we were little? When our dreams did not come true the first time, self-doubt set in. We start doubting if we are capable of achieving another dream, or life is truly possible. The negative voices in our head along with the never lacking criticism from sometime well-meaning individuals further anchor the perceptions of low-self esteem into our psyche. When we doubt and think that we don't deserve, we naturally push grace and all that is good away. Lacking grace and the lack of self-esteem can be a self-fulfilling prophecy where they feed on each other in the perpetually negative loop.
To embrace grace, we need to first embrace ourselves. Whether it's our own voice or the voices of others, kick out all the negative judgement in our mind. It's the ground work for inviting grace into our lives. We can only embrace grace when we truly believe that we are worthy of love and all that is good in life. When our pocket is full of negative self beliefs, it leaves no room for grace to enter.
Overpowered by pain and self-doubt are some of the factors account for our lack of embracement of grace. Wherever you are on your spiritual journey, try to pay attention to all the little things in life that is good. Take a few moments each day and count your blessings in life. Believe in yourself that you deserve all the goodness for simply being you. Open your heart to grace, big or small. It is through those little threads, our journey is fabricated of the beauty and wonder of life.