Grace and Courage

At the end of my year as an Amate House volunteer, I wrote myself a letter to be opened in one year. (Thank you, Amate, for sending our letters to us!).  I may or may not have written to my 23 3/4 self from my 22 3/4 self. I’m that cool.

This last June, I appreciated getting that letter so much that I decided to do it again.   I wrote myself another letter on my 24th birthday to my 25-year-old self. Thankfully, I have a terrible memory so I already have no idea what I wrote in it other than two paragraphs that I decided to copy into my journal because they’re about things I decided to be intentional about this year:

Grace and Courage.

I know these are life-long pursuits. But I think it’s good to be intentional about things and about becoming the person I want to be.  Here’s what I wrote:

Grace. Seeing people as God sees them. Asking, “who am I to judge?” Remembering, “If God has been merciful with me (constantly!), then so should I be with others. Giving people the benefit of the doubt. Choosing understanding over self-righteousness. Being gentle with myself and others.

Courage. Daring greatly. Living in the arena. “Doing” when called to “do.” “Being” when called to “be.” Choosing to make time for prayer, because, let’s be honest, it feels like such a risk at the time. Living wholeheartedly. Not living small in false humility (or large, in unhealthy pride), but living me, as God calls me to be me. Focusing on God’s strength in me.

Ironically, I didn’t want to share these intentional practices with people. I didn’t have the courage to do so 😉 But that is because it offers others the opportunity to call me out if I am not living grace-filled (note, that is not graceful. I’m a klutz. You don’t have to call me out on that… I’m well aware) or if I’m living small and scared. It offers the opportunity to be critiqued for picking virtues to “focus” on. But I’m going to be courageous and be open to criticism, open to conversation, open to being formed by those around me. Open to not keeping all my thoughts in my head.

Speaking of being open to being formed by those around me, I decided it was time to share these thoughts because someone called me out the other day around the topic of courage. A mentor of mine heard my timidity at accepting a compliment concerning courage and she made me say out loud, “I have courage.” THREE TIMES. Hmmph. So here we are.

All year long, I’m going to be adding to my thoughts on grace and courage… and of course, trying to find opportunities to practice them! I don’t think I have to worry about a lack of opportunity. It’s like praying for patience. God doesn’t give you “patience” per se,  but gives you an opportunity to wait. In my 1+ month of being 24, I’ve had several (daily!) instances to choose grace and practice courage.

And why grace and courage specifically, you ask? Well, first, I should say that practicing these are obviously integrally tied up in other ways of being intentional about my life and becoming the person God calls me to be. But these stuck out to me right now, to my mid-20s self, for a few reasons.  Simply, I’ve read a lot of Brené Brown over the last year, and I’ve been convicted to live life wholeheartedly, to dare greatly, and that takes practice. And answering my vocational call(ings) demands courage. (As does yours of course! And grace? I think I noticed a piece inside of me that didn’t like some of my interior dialogue that I was hearing. And it was affecting my actions. Asking myself to be more grace-filled calls me immediately to rely more on Grace, humbling me to be patient with myself and others.

And you want to hear something cool?!?!

Over a year ago, my running buddy and I met this cool group of runner-women who started an organization/movement of runner-women called Fellow Flowers. They sell different colored flowers that signify different concepts. I chose white: Dreamer. The description?

To show grace and courage. To embrace the challenge and welcome new beginnings. Putting yourself out there. Doing it scared. I WILL RUN THROUGH THE FEAR TO FEEL THE JOY.

Dreamer. To show GRACE and COURAGE.

Didn’t realize that “coincidence.” Pretty cool.

You’re pretty cool too, friends!! Thanks for being part of the conversation. What else would you add to my collection/collecting of thoughts on grace and courage?

With grace and courage,
Melissa

P.S. Do you want to know who else is pretty cool and courageous?! My running buddy. She’s running the Chicago Marathon AGAIN this year. Check out her blog supporting her work and running cause, Taller de José.

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