Last week here at Soul Care, we chose to support our readers by publishing each day something to help us care for ourselves. We wanted to offer a safe space to take a breath amid so much turmoil. Every post was a spiritual exercise, designed to calm anxieties. Monday, we published Calming Anxiety: A Trust Exercise; Tuesday, Calming Anxiety: Releasing Fear; Wednesday, Calming Anxiety: Finding Hope; Thursday, Calming Anxiety: Reclaiming Peace; and Friday, The Weekly Breather: Quotidian (everyday, ordinary) Rest. We hope they helped you through the week, and we hope you and others will continue to use them in the future, whenever you have need of them.
It was a roller coaster of a week for many. For those of us in the helping professions, we have seen the ramifications of the stress and uncertainty of this election season on the populations we serve. Sitting with others as they process their anxiety about the situations that surround us can leave us sapped and unable to process our own emotions. With the emotional strain, we can wander from what we know to be true and grow short on the practice of grace.
What about the truth? The truth is we have a new president that one half of the people of this country did not vote for. The truth is there is a growing perception on both sides of not being validated or understood. The truth is there are a lot of hurting, angry people. But for us as Christ followers, our biggest Truth is God is still on His throne and in charge. He is not surprised by this place we find ourselves, nor has He given up on calling people to Himself.
And grace? Grace, at any time, is difficult. In these last weeks, it may have been hard to be kind, non-judgmental, or show someone favor. But God’s grace in action is that He continues to give us new glimpses of Himself. Grace continues to recognize that God wants relationship with every single soul on this earth—not just me and the ones who look, act, and think like me. Grace is understanding that only God knows what thoughts and paths belong to each of us, and He is the judge of the human heart.
Truth tells us there is a definitive process—a bottom line. But truth without grace is harsh, judgmental, and deadly. Grace tells us all things are possible—without limits—and that anyone has the privilege of the relationship. Grace without truth is weak, messy, and deadly.
We are tenders of souls and holders of stories, well trained in offering grace and truth to the individuals whom we serve. The harder task is offering grace and truth to those who appear to be pushing against the rules of truth or give grace to every situation when we don’t think grace is merited. We become afraid of people we don’t understand, angry at those who are hurtful, and judgmental of those who have made choices that seem to remove them from either the truth or grace part of the equation. But the truth is, the grace of Christ is calling them just as He calls us.
As we go about these next minutes, days, and weeks, let us practice seeing through Christ-like binoculars, remembering that when we look at ourselves or others with only one lens of either truth or grace, we are missing the big picture. If the lens is only truth, we judge, we keep tabs of rights and wrongs, we become harsh, angry, and hopeless. On the other hand, if we look only through the grace lens, we don’t tell our truth, God’s truth, or stand up for own our story.
However, when we raise those binoculars and bring them into focus on both truth and grace, we see through the eyes of Christ. We become more clearly able to extend grace, with truth as the guiding boundary. We see even the most despicable of people with eyes that say to the heart, “this is a child of God, created by Him for relationship with Him. This is a person God loves and calls to himself, just as much as He loves and calls me.”
We need to feel all the emotions that have come for us during the last year and a half, but remember that the bottom line is that this is not our home. We have the privilege to be grace and truth for others to see. Carry your binoculars, look out beyond the horizon to your truth. And with your focus on both truth and grace, go out to the world and let them know that they are dearly loved and not forgotten. God, in all His Truth and all His Grace, wants them to know that. Speak the truth grounded in grace and use your gifts to work in this world. Lives depend on it.
Most precious heavenly Father, we bow down and ask for your forgiveness for how we have forgotten either your truth or your grace in this season in this land. Heal our hearts and calm our fears so we can help those you put in our path. Please open our eyes and heart to your focus. Let us see each individual as you see them and help us to love when we are empty, angry, or afraid. We know, Father, that you are in control and that you are faithful through the end of days. Enable us to be your light, your love, your truth and your grace to our hurting and divided country. We love you, Lord, and through you we ask all these things in your holy name Jesus our Christ. Amen.
Charlotte Easley is a member of Soul Care Collective’s Steering Committee.