If you were a contestant on Family Feud and Steve Harvey said, "100 people were surveyed and we've got the top answer on the board….fill in the blank,… ____Grace" What do you think the top answer would be? If you want to hear, "Good Answer, Good Answer" from your family members, you had better say "Amazing", right? Yes, grace is amazing and we are grateful for John Newton's anthem which helps us to express how truly amazing it is.
But, let's be word nerds today and amplify our understanding of grace by attaching a new adjective. How about optimisticgrace? I had never considered whether the grace I express is optimistic until I heard Matt Leroy, a chapel speaker at Indiana Wesleyan, challenge the students there. He explained that though our acts of grace may look the same from person to person, some of our offerings are hollow at best. We "love on" others hoping it will draw them to Christ, but in our heart of hearts, we don't necessarily believe we will witness a changed life.
I think very often my grace is extended with a side of pessimism. Life feels a bit safer that way, doesn't it? If I don’t get my hopes up, they won't be dashed. But, optimistic grace sets judgments aside, renounces the prediction of outcomes, and proceeds with the highest of expectations on behalf of every soul. Let me give you an example.
Through my position as a youth worker, I once met a teen named Randy. The first thing I noticed about him….let's be honest…the first thing everyone noticed about him was his habit of chewing on a rubber cockroach at lunch in the cafeteria. Along with this, Randy's fingernails were purposefully filed into claws. Pointed, dagger-like fingernails holding his rubber cockroach, working in tandem to both disturb, and distance, his peers.
"I want you to take Randy out to be fitted with a tux for prom. I'll pay for it. Just don't let him get anything weird."
This is the request I received one day from the track coach at a local high school. As a winning coach, he certainly had to be adept at "potential spotting", but I was still shocked by his idea. Optimistic grace was at work though. Where others just saw an odd young man, this coach saw a tuxedoed prom-goer. We both knew that pain, tragedy, and confusion had shaped this complex young man. We both knew prom would not undo any of the damage already done in Randy's life. But, Mr. W wanted Randy to know his potential had been seen, despite all self-efforts to mask it. He wanted Randy to be coaxed out of isolation to experience the fun and fellowship of a prom night before crossing the finish-line of high school. Randy ended up going to prom, with a date, in a nice suit his grandparents decided to buy him. Optimistic grace is contagious it seems.
A coach approached Randy with a bent toward optimistic grace. He believed God's love in action is truly transformative. I believe the same, yet back behind that belief…in the thought-space I don't like to admit to…I let doubts toward certain people accumulate and I fatalistically assume, "they'll never change." Ask God to reveal to you the souls in your life you tend to approach pessimistically. Then try to memorize this great concluding line of Matt Leroy's presentation. "Reckless love. Optimistic grace. Radical hospitality... Wherever you go, live this."
Author: Lisa Crawford
6/21/2021 09:49:21 pm
What an exquisite article! Your post is very helpful right now. Thank you for sharing this informative one.
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