“Grace” Means Give Yourself a Break! The Perfect Word for this Moment
Each Monday, Julio Vincent Gambuto presents “Modern Muting” — a weekly Medium story series dedicated to helping readers step back from all the bullshit of modern life, create quiet, re-evaluate, then go forward boldly. It’s 500 words a week of “self-help meets the system.”
It is a time for grace. I usually bristle at words with such religious overtones, or those that I encountered in CCD (the weekly after-school, Catholic version of Sunday School). But if there were ever a time to use this word, it is now. If the world ever needed a word to describe what is missing, this is it. I recently held a book talk with Emmy-nominated Netflix stars and New York Times–bestselling authors Joshua Fields Millburn and T.K. Coleman of The Minimalists, and T.K. used the word: grace. And I was stopped in my tracks.
It really is such a perfect word. Grace means courteous goodwill. It’s part kindness, part elegance, part compassion. It need not actually be religious. And it does not stand in opposition, in any way, to justice. Grace is simply allowing for the best possible interpretation of the actions of others, and of our own actions. Grace is when a friend says, “Hey, give yourself a break.” Perhaps we should say that to ourselves a little more. It shouldn’t excuse our own personal bullshit, but it should offer ourselves room to breathe as we hold ourselves up to the imbalanced, unrealistic, and inhumane expectations of the modern world.
This is an impossible time. And our communication, economic, and political systems are terribly broken. They are not up to the task at hand. They were built for a different moment. They were designed with the wrong motives. They were constructed based on very problematic premises. They magnify and amplify not only extreme points of view, but extreme emotions. Their brokenness is making so much of it worse. So it is up to each of us to extend each other — and ourselves — a bit of grace.
What does that look like? More patience. More than you think is necessary. More than your body will allow for — a body that, along with my own, has been conditioned now to be impatient. It means an extended deadline. It means forgiveness for the wrong word. It means giving one another…