“Oh, my Goodness Gracious, girl!
What did you do to your hair?!”
This sounds like something my Texan Gramma would say to me after a dubious salon visit! I imagine her hands on her hips, a slight tilt to her head, and that teasing little smile of hers on her lips.
Now as a grown-up, I find myself using this old-fashioned phrase quite often. I’d blame my Southern roots right now, but today I use it on purpose to bring up a point.
There is great Goodness and great God-ness in being Gracious!
Let’s talk about how being gracious to the people around us can bring this great quality of God’s to change how we relate to each other.
Side note, notice I didn’t say “Goodness Grace.” I said, “Goodness Gracious.” The “ious” at the end, according to Yourdictionary.com, means “having or being like the word it follows.”
Gracious means taking grace given to us, even though we all have failures and flaws, and then being that grace to others, even though they have failures and flaws.
Here’s what started me thinking about this: I work in rooms full of middle schoolers and all that you can imagine that entails! But before you label me crazy, I have to tell you that I learn fantastic life lessons from these maniacs every day!
Yesterday I learned how the goodness in gracious action can makes a difference.
A beautifully wise teacher I work with is “blessed” with a large number of disrespectful and rambunctious teenagers, all in one of class. Yesterday, one of these “blessings” exploded in a rant of “F*** this!” and “F*** that!” aimed mostly at his teacher.
It was not the first assault she has endured from this kid, and most of us would probably react with a rant of our own. This teacher doesn’t. As she has before, she opened the classroom door, gestured to the outside, and calmly repeated, “Let’s just step outside and talk. Come on, let’s step outside.”
Her face composed, her voice placid and patient, she stood there waiting, repeating, assuring and forgiving.
Yes, forgiving, releasing the power of the words he said and replacing it with the power of grace. This guy certainly didn’t deserve or even ask to be forgiven, but there she stood anyway, giving him Goodness Gracious.
I recalled from my own “Goodness Gracious” moments with other difficult people that when we are able to be gracious faithfully, over and over again, it can interrupt reactions of anger and hurt.
Have you ever noticed that the reaction of anger and hurt tends to create more anger and hurt? The cycle just perpetuates itself. But when replaced with a chosen response of forgiveness and kindness, the chance for change is created instead. Walls of anger are shaken, soft hearts awakened, and defenses broken with the giving of grace.
Can you see it changing here? The ranting student quieted some and walked out the door. Standing with his arms folded, he listened to the calm response of a gracious and forgiving teacher. A relationship begins to change and a door is opened.
And the God-ness of Grace steps in.
“The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin.”
Exodus 34:6 (ESV)
This is possibly the best description of God’s character in the whole Bible: Merciful, gracious, forgiving.
What if, when we emulate this character of God through acts of graciousness, God steps in?
Steps in to that brokenness that stands outside the classroom.
Steps in to that trouble with your co-worker.
Steps in to a marriage stuck in hurt and defensiveness.
Steps in to a heart that knows no grace for itself.
I want to address the last one on that short list, probably because it has been hardest for me to have grace for myself. I can talk about being open to the God-ness in grace with others, but it is hardest to extend that to myself.
How about you? Can you relate to that?
Are you able to open the door and invite the ranting part of you to step into grace, to be “merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love” towards yourself?
It’s not easy to be gracious with our own failures and flaws. On top of that, we live in a hustle culture where “work over well-being” is preached, where no success is successful enough, where there is always more we “should” be doing.
The one thing that helps me most is to remember and accept this Truth is this: this Merciful and Gracious God that I know and love already loves me back and has forgiven me. I don’t have to earn it or deserve His grace. “Goodness Gracious” is already mine.
“…but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners,
Christ died for us.”
Do you think, beautiful friends, it could it be possible for you to walk away from this moment believing that grace is yours in abundance? Likewise, could you take that grace and share it with a hurting and ranting world?
I would bet my own “Goodness Gracious," and my dubious new hair style, that you can!
Now, go with Grace and live like it is Good!