Today, as I attended Mormon services with my family, an older woman approached me and asked me, “What is grace?” She shared she’d been struggling lately. We had a short conversation, but later I thought more deeply about her question. I emailed her a more thorough response, which is included below.
Grace is the bedrock of what is truly real.
Grace is the assurance of God’s unconditional love–a love that can never be earned, nor qualified for, nor lost.
Grace is the recognition that we don’t need to spend ourselves chasing “enough:” good enough, smart enough, rich enough, fit enough, politically active enough, successful enough. We are made enough by God’s declaration.
Grace gives us space to be wrong, to change our minds, to be better, because our fundamental worth is never at stake.
Grace give us space to allow others to be wrong, to change their minds, to be better, because their fundamental worth is never at stake.
Grace does not condemn, but restores. It guides us into a practice of justice that does not exalt punishment, but seeks the transformation of evil into good. Grace is the power that does the transforming.
Grace doesn’t kick in to cover what we lack, but envelops us, warts and all, in abundance.
Grace says, “You are accepted, who or where or how you are.” It is the thing that frees us to accept our acceptance.
Grace does not require goodness but with its touch makes us good.
Grace does not require worthiness but with its embrace makes us worthy.
Grace does not require righteousness but with its influence makes us righteous.
Grace says, “Give me all you hate and fear about yourself, and I will exchange it for peace and love.”
Grace says, “Give me all you hate and fear about your neighbor, and I will show you God’s image in them.”
The opposite of grace is not good works, for grace is the source of all good works. The opposite of grace is shame, which tells us no matter how hard we work we will never be whole. Grace says, “Here is wholeness, an infinite supply, and all for free. Go share it.”
If you are tired, if you are weary, if you are angry, if you are broken, if you are mourning, if you struggle, if you doubt, if you fear you can’t take another step, grace says, “I am here with you in this. You are not alone.”
Grace is the reassurance that nothing–neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation–will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Grace is the reality that nothing in the world is assured except this: You are God’s. You are forgiven. You are beloved.