Goodness, gracious. Pain-free conflict.

22 Jan

I’ll be the first to say that I enjoy the occasional debate. (Not as much as I used to – anxiety alert!) I also respect when people have strong feelings and opinions, especially if there’s a good sense of humor to go along with it. With the wonders of social media, we’re all sharing our feelings, thoughts, and causes left and right. Thankfully, most of the people I know are kind and respectful of each other, so I’m not subjected to too much drama, really. That’s not accounting for friends’ friends, though. There are some people who, no matter what you say, think you’re absolutely wrong and an [insert insult here] for saying what you say, thinking what you think, feeling what you feel … it must be exhausting to go through life challenging everyone in that way. It’s exhausting enough to witness someone else doing it.

When you get down to it, we all disagree about something. Food, movies, beauty, and the ultimate controversial duo: politics and religion. All too often, those topics bring up a major migraine and/or some serious muscle tension. The thing I find missing from most discussions gone wrong is grace. You may think of different things when trying to define grace, but I can probably make a case for why each definition is applicable to maintain a respectful argument (or a respectful silence,) and to save you from exhaustion, even pain.

Definition 1: A virtue coming from God. Hey, dictionary, could you vague that one up just a little more? Seriously, I go to church, I read the Bible, I have a relationship with God, and I still don’t completely get this definition of grace. I can say that I get that Biblical grace is something holy from God that sets you apart and, perhaps more importantly, it’s what enables a person to have a relationship with God. Now, even if you don’t believe in God, I know you still get this. Grace is something that is given to form the foundation for a respectful, meaningful relationship. The better relationship you have with someone, the easier it is to tolerate differences.

Definition 2: Favor; disposition to or an act or instance of kindness, courtesy, or clemency. Even when you completely, utterly disagree with someone, your attitude toward the disagreement can make all the difference in the world. You can either end up in a yelling match with a sore throat, wondering how in the world things got that far, or you can take a breath, and allow the other person the courtesy of your “good graces.” C’mon, save the Luden’s.

Definition 3: A charming or attractive trait or characteristic. Simply put, grace makes you attractive. As they say, you catch more flies with honey …

Definition 4: Sense of propriety or right. Last but not least, even if you don’t win the argument, grace means you still get to be right! Everyone likes to be right, right?

All kidding aside, we could all use a little more grace in our lives. Since grace is something you give, first and foremost, you may be the only one giving, but if it means saving your sanity, your health, and keeping your cool, it’s totally worth it. Plus, if you think it might be hard to put grace into action in conversation (fake smiles can be pretty painful for everyone involved,) just abide by that simple kindergarten rule: if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. You can always blog about it later.

Gentle hugs,

Chels

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