“Grace. One of my favorite words. May we Be it. Live it. Embody it. Extend it. Receive it.
Grace is one of the purest forms of love because one doesn’t have to do anything to earn it or deserve it. When we love with Grace, we are loving like Jesus. Sometimes that is a challenge and takes discipline! Grace is a love that sees us at our worst, yet gives us pardon. May we love others with Grace on the days they need it and love ourselves with Grace on the days when we are the ones in need. ” -Rebekah Ann Stephenson
I wrote that quote on a day when I was feeling challenged and needed to take time to breathe and talk to God so that I could have the right attitude. God spoke to my heart as He usually does when I am quiet and meditate on things.
I’ve been blessed with quite a bit of patience , BUT I tend to have a very low tolerance for anger. I’m sure it has to do with being the recipient of bullying behavior a lot in my past. I used to get very scared of anger. It used to make my heart pound and I would get all emotional and run off to hide and cry. Sometimes it would make me depressed for days. I am sure many of you can relate to feeling uncomfortable with this particular emotion.
I still get scared and uncomfortable with anger, but as I got older, wiser, and stronger, a lot of my fear turned into my own anger coming out in return and finally taking a stand for myself. I am deeply intuitive and aware of my surroundings and as such, I am one of those people who can pick up on other people’s moods/energy VERY easily. Even before their mood has fully manifested and it is only showing up as the slightest shift in behavior. If I allow it, I can be easily affected by other people’s emotions. It is one of my greatest challenges.
Can you relate?
Recently a single woman I know told me she found the way I am as a wife to be very interesting. I thought maybe this is another piece of something inspiring I could write about to encourage other wives/women looking to be a wife one day. I think the way in which I handle conflict is universal, so I do want to say that this stuff I am learning/practicing works for ALL relationships. So yeah, I am getting away from myself.
Back to Grace.
I have learned so much in my first year as a wife, and continue to practice new ways of being, taking 100% responsibility for myself and my emotions/actions, while trying my best to not take on other people’s “stuff”. This is such a healthy way to be in any relationship, but of course it isn’t always easy, especially if you are a heart centered empath like I am.
For the Wives here and future Wives (that’s right, it’s Wives with a Capital W cause it is a big job hehe !): I know I am about to sound a bit old fashioned here (I am an odd mix of women’s lib meets old fashioned values Donna Reed 😀 ), but as a wife I feel a big part of my job is to be the heart of the home. I am good at nurturing. I am good at creating warmth and a loving, safe space to live. As such, part of the role I have taken on is peacemaker. Keeping the peace in my home is important to me, since I am the heart of the home. These are soft, womanly strengths I offer that compliment and balance my husband’s strengths. So what’s a wife to do (especially one so easily triggered by angry moods) when conflict arises?
We are imperfect beings experiencing a full spectrum of emotions, and we don’t always have the self control to not project them on to others. In relationship, we are going to have bad moods sometimes, and get annoyed with one another in the process. We may as well make peace with emotions!
I have discovered the art of picking my battles and lettings some things go. The other day my husband came home from work in a bad mood. I went to the door to greet him with my usual hug, but instead of greeting me he had that annoyed look on his face and was mumbling stuff, slamming doors, kicking stuff out of the way, using an angry tone of voice …all that stuff. As a brand new wife, I would have gone to that fear place and started badgering him about what his deal was or getting emotional about it. In other words, I would have taken his stuff on as my own (like I was somehow to blame) , gotten defensive, and more upset in the process. I’ve discovered that is not the best path to go down in these situations.
I asked him what was wrong and this time let it go (instead of badgering him) when he didn’t feel like sharing. Even though part of me was upset and starting to want to go to that angry or afraid place myself, I took a step back. I asked myself what was really going on here. Did I do anything wrong? No. This was just some emotion he was having and it had nothing to do with me. I decided that instead of immediately trying to fix his anger so it would go away (which was always my pattern because that is how much I hate anger) or tell him off for acting out, that I would silently give him permission to have his anger, not take it into MY being, and assume 100% responsibility for myself.
What does that look like?
It looked like me calmly saying something like, “I am going to go out for awhile and do my own thing tonight while you have some space to relax. There are leftovers in the fridge for dinner. I am sorry you had a bad day. I will be back later but will have my phone on me if you need something.”
What I really wanted to do was be immature myself and throw a tantrum back. I didn’t feel like talking nicely, but two adults having tantrums does not make for good conflict resolution.
Grace. Let it go.
You know what? While it was difficult to have self control in the midst of all this, it felt more empowering than getting all caught up his stuff and having it spiral into something potentially more hurtful. I don’t have control over his emotions, and his emotions are not my responsibility. Only my own are.
Why this type of conflict resolution works so well for me:
- It’s showing him that I am not attempting to control him. He is allowed to have his anger, even if I don’t like it.
- However, my personal boundary is that people can have their anger, just NOT on me. I took charge of my own emotions and since I don’t like being around anger, I was calmly letting him know him I am making a different choice for myself by removing myself for a bit. (having grace doesn’t mean you have to be a doormat. It is a powerful choice).
- & …Regardless of whatever he is feeling and whatever conflicts we may get in to on this journey (because no lifelong relationship is 100% conflict free), I am still his partner in this. “I’m sorry you had a bad day. There are leftovers for you in the fridge. I’m leaving for awhile but my phone is with me.” Rather than just leaving the house in a huff and acting like I don’t care about him.
Peace. Conflict dissolved. Everything back to its loving balance.
Maybe life doesn’t have to be as difficult as we make it. People are going to get upset (this goes for family and friends too, as I have many examples of moody encounters there too!), but the question is, how are we going to respond? It is the one thing we have control over. Our own response to it.
Sometimes we lash out in return because in all honesty the other party probably doesn’t “deserve” to be handled kindly if they aren’t handling us kindly, right? It’s not fair!!!! (insert tantrum here haha). Like I said, it it isn’t easy, but self control, patience, gentleness, kindness, love, etc. show spiritual maturity (they are the fruits of the spirit).
**note: I want to add that Grace in the moment doesn’t mean that the other person doesn’t ever have to take responsibility. I often revisit the topic later (when emotions aren’t high) to express how I feel and what I think is a better way to go about things.
While a temper isn’t my personal area of struggle, heaven knows my husband has used grace with me many times in keeping his mouth shut in some of my challenging areas. Grace is a two way street.
Who else could use a little Grace today (Whether it be giving or receiving it)? Breathe deeply, filling your heart with Grace, and breathe out the stuff that had you bogged down…. Feel the peace that comes with letting go and loving, living Grace.