8 Ways to Show Grace in Relationships
by Mark Votava
Grace is hard. Why is that? Maybe it is because it breaks down our narcissistic tendencies. Grace calls out for the kingdom of God within us. Grace calls out to our true selves.
Grace seems to be a foreign, disembodied idea in the church today. It is why there is almost no formation of healthy communities in local places. Grace opens up the imagination within us to reconciliation with those who we think are “different” from us in all kinds of ways.
Grace has to do with gentleness and patience. Things that take work to practice in a fast paced, violent world. It seems that when we embody grace is when we are living most fully in the present moment beyond our anxieties and frustrations.
We become empathetic and live a life of humility. A life of humility, gentleness, vulnerability and patience is a life well lived. It encapsulates deep wisdom and will help instead of hinder the relational embodiment of community among us.
Here are 8 ways to show grace in relationships in everyday life together with others.
1. Do not become attached to ideals
The body of Christ is called to live into its place without being attached to seemingly “good” ideals that can become dangerous and damaging to our relationships. Our ideals can keep us from the grace that must be a part of our lives together in the particulars of everyday life.
We all have to go through the filtering of our ideals to come into the reality of real relationship. Our ideals cannot blind us any longer in the parish. The communal imagination is too important for us to allow our ideals to destroy it.
2. Embrace the call to become expressions of grace in the place we inhabit
We are all called to become an expression of grace in the place we inhabit together. We will not function properly without grace. Grace is healing to our relationships. Grace is what will make it possible to share life together in the particulars of everyday life.
3. Become aware of our “wish dreams”
Illusions, ideals, and “wish dreams” will not take us very far together. We need not get caught up in all of this. The reality of our relationships is often very different than what we may have envisioned them to be at the outset.
4. Allow our relationships to teach us
Relationships are unpredictable. They are messy. They teach us constantly to show grace and love. We cannot escape the grace of relationship.
5. Be proactive in facing one another with love
If we do, we become isolated and extremely lonely. There is nothing to do and nowhere to go except to face one another with grace. This will help us to learn to be the body of Christ.
“Many times we are driven by an illusion,” Annemarie S. Kidder says, “of what true Christian community should look like, chasing after a dream and being disappointed by the realities …”
Grace stems from our love for others.
“Be patient, bearing with one another in love …” (Ephesians 4:2).
6. Be patient with one another
We need to have patience and grace for one another as expressions of our love for one another. Without this our ideals will take over and ruin us. Our relationships will not be sustainable. And we will soon forget about one another and our local context.
7. Hold the tension
In his book A Hidden Wholeness, Parker J. Palmer writes, “In particular, we must learn to hold the tension between the reality of the moment and the possibility that something better might emerge …”
We have to understand the balancing act of the reality and the potential of everyday life together in the parish. The reality is sometimes hard to face. The potential gives us great hope.
8. Practice connecting in relationship
So we need to live inside of this tension. This is one of the ways we learn to lay down our lives as the body of Christ and allow God to enlighten us. This is a mystery that only God can teach us through practicing relationship.
I have struggled so much with this tension between the real and the possible. Sometimes I become depressed and want it all to go away. But this is the process of life that I must face as I journey with the body of Christ in everyday life. I cannot make it go away, but that is okay. I am learning to not get caught up in all the illusions.
I realize that at times our grace will be challenged. Sometimes it all seems impossible. But God has been forming a communal imagination in my neighborhood that is full of possibilities and potential.
My friends and I want to continue to be an expression of grace together as we learn how to be in relationship with each other. The Spirit is working every day to manifest relational revelations through us all. I am continually learning that grace is a miracle we can all become a part of through relationship.
How can we be moved to thinking about the grace of relationship?