There is a state of grace I really want to experience: a world filled with grace and hope; one where we serve others at least as often as we serve ourselves. With this as my true desire, I tell fear to take a hike, and allow my thoughts to flow.
I believe in grace, but this season has been difficult. With the election drama, we have had family drama and budgets gone haywire. I was having trouble connecting to my inner joy. I have been in a funk! Writer's block has had me in it's grip and fear of letting someone down didn't help me sort through it any faster. I can't tell you how many blog attempts I made that ended with the press of the delete button.
My husband, however, has a way of changing my perspective even if he doesn't know he is doing it. Jason lives by a set of principles. One of his favorites is, you have to give it away to keep it. It sounds like an oxymoron: how can you keep something you are freely giving away? In practice, it really does work, especially in regards to being of service to others. Whenever Jason is feeling in a funk, he goes out and helps others. 100% of the time comes home joyful.
Because of his example, I realized that in order to find that same joy, I needed to stop the pity party that was ramping up in my head. The universe always knows exactly what we need when we need it. All we need to do is listen. My opportunity to do that came in a phone call - a call of service to help another woman who was struggling. As I counseled this friend, my fear and doubt washed away. I found my joy by being gracious with her. I knew I needed to use that feeling to tell fear to get lost. I need to just sit down and let what flows out do exactly that. And so here we are.
Serving others without thought for ourselves takes practice. As a society, we surrounds ourselves with more: bigger houses, bigger bank accounts, bigger cars, bigger meals. We get locked in our heads and allow fear to control us. We turn a blind eye to our neighbor in trouble. We ignore that phone call because we have our own struggles that feel bigger than anyone else's. We are afraid to let go of our desires and pay attention to the needs of others. We forget that practicing grace -- being gracious and willing to serve others -- is where real happiness exists.
How do we find that grace?
Some find it in theology, some in simplifying their lives, some find it in books. My family found it through recovery. By practicing a set of principles in all our affairs, we have found grace in lives of service.
Even an act as small as holding a door open for someone becomes a source of joy. I find that people are usually a bit startled when one of us takes the time to help, but they always end up walking away with a smile, at least for the moment. It's a proud mama moment to see my daughters extending that hand to others in need as well.
Little by little, we can set an example to others about living in a state of graciousness and gratitude. We can serve others with our whole hearts and get out of our heads for a bit and feel what real joy is. We can teach our children to practice these principles.
How much better would our world be if this continues as a ripple effect, each person paying it forward without the thought of what they will get out of it? Just serving because it's right, because it's good, and because it makes everyone feel better.