Grace, Peace and Joy
During this holiday season, those three words seem to weave themselves into every aspect of our lives. Grace. Peace. Joy.
What do they really mean? We know that grace means simple elegance or courteous goodwill. Peace is freedom of disturbance. Joy is a feeling of great joy and happiness.
So why during this holiday season, when we hear most about Peace on Earth and Joy to the World, we are anything but feeling peace and joy? And, grace? How do we extend that to others?
Growing up, I had some familiar Christmas traditions – baking cookies with my mom and grandma; anticipation of seeing Santa, handing off my letter, in hopes that he might bring me what I really wanted; going to church, either midnight mass or Christmas morning; and being with all my family. And, some that were special to only me – going to my neighbor’s house on Christmas Eve and singing Christmas carols all night; having a real Christmas dinner the day after Christmas when my aunt, uncle and cousin could all travel from afar to my grandparent’s house.
During those times, I was in a complete state of grace, peace and joy, but didn’t know it. Watching my grandmother carefully prepare everything and anticipate the arrival of all her children and grandchildren. Being gracious to allow it to happen the day after and not on the actual day. (Hello, I was little – 3 Christmases, heck yea!) I experienced the joy of the season, as my mom and grandparents made everything perfect for us. And, peace, when it was all over.
But, now as an adult with two boys of my own, living more than 2 hours from my mom and family, I am learning the real meaning of grace, peace and joy. Especially this year when nothing has gone according to anyone’s plan.
Giving Myself Grace
So, today, I am writing this blog two days late. It was supposed to be edited and posted two days ago. Yet, I sit here, typing away, trying to avoid the constant distractions of the messy kitchen, unwrapped gifts, listening to my husband on a conference all and my boys doing virtual learning. Could I beat myself up for not meeting a deadline? Of course! But I also know that the world isn’t going to end. I know that my family is safe, healthy, and making the most of what hasn’t been an ideal past few months.
I tell you this because I have been learning the hard way, really, for about a year (we had some other family things pop up starting in 2019). Grace is something that we extent to others, a lot. We extend goodwill and forgiveness, understanding where others are coming from. But we never do to ourselves. We constantly beat ourselves up for not meeting expectations that we place on ourselves. We would never talk to others the way we talk to ourselves. Why is that? Allowing grace to enter our lives allows us to, forgive ourselves when things don’t go as planned. Many times, the outside world doesn’t know our plans or can read our to do list. And, that is OK.
Listen to the Experts
Like Deepak Chopra stated in his article, “9 ways to bring peace and grace to your holiday season,” take it easy on yourself. He writes “if you aim to make the holiday perfect, failure is around the corner.” Wouldn’t it be easier to cut a few corners and make things as happy and joyful, than know what is lurking around those sharp corners? https://chopra.com/articles/9-ways-to-bring-peace-and-grace-to-your-holiday-seasonDeepak Chopra
According to Robert Fagan, he suggests that we go lightly on ourselves, establish graceful limits, and respond but don’t react. Each of these, plus more on his list, give us the permission to step back from being in the middle of the hustle and bustle, and not go hard on ourselves by creating a limit on our overindulges, whether it be food, drink, activities, whatever. Give gr ace.
If you noticed, in both of these articles, sprinkled in were peace and joy. Because they are the cornerstone of the season. Peace and Joy. We hear them all the time. They are paired up. Peace and Joy.
Peace. The “freedom of disturbance.” No wars or fighting. Peace. Or perhaps we need to allow peace go along with “rest.” Finding a moment to find peace, to rest our souls, our eyes, our bodies, can let in the ability to give more grace to others and ourselves.
Or as Deepak Chopra said, “remove the toxicity” and “set limits.” When we allow these to enter our world, we begin to feel an inner peace come over us. Setting the limits on what we can do and where we can be, along with removing the bad from our lives – people, food, drink, whatever – we begin to feel a calm. Our bodies need rest. Our minds need peace. No more internal fighting.
Bring the Joy
Now, Joy. How do we find it? Robert Fagan suggests the one thing that I always promote, as a health coach, as a mom, and as I was raised. Give thanks. Doesn’t always have to be an over-the-top kind of thank you, but something small, even nonverbal, can make a difference to someone, and also in your heart.
And, practice gratitude. Be grateful for the small things that take place during the day. Write them down in a journal. Do as my family does nightly at the dinner table – ask each person what was the best thing that happened to them during the day. Could be something so simple as not sleeping through the alarm, the cat didn’t hiss at me today, I got a message from a friend, or, just that we are finally eating a family meal that that everyone likes (that might be mine)! Finding joy in the little things can help fill the heart and bring that inner peace, allowing for more grace.
Finding grace, peace and joy during this season and throughout the year takes practice. It takes a change in mindset. Something that we all could use a little more of. Finding grace within ourselves allow more peace and joy to enter our bodies, hearts and minds.
What are the different ways you can find grace, peace and joy throughout the year?