So, I’m 24 days in with this whole collection of grateful challenge. 24 measly little days in the grand scheme of things and it is gently, or not so gently reminding me of things and changing me….for the better. There really is something to this grateful thing.
Today’s post was about being grateful for choice. As an American I’ve enjoyed the freedom of choice since birth. I’ve never been rich, but I’ve also never wanted for anything important. The United States isn’t the only free country in the world, I realize. Just because I’m an American doesn’t mean choice and freedom are exclusive to me. But I’m grateful this is where I was born. It’s been a really good place to me. I love my country and I love my heritage. Being from this place has instilled in me some incredible values. I could have learned these values anywhere I suppose, but I am proud I learned them here.
Choice and Origin got me to thinking about my responsibility in all this. My freedom and ability to choose my own path in life is a gift and I have learned over the years I am responsible to what I’ve been given.
One thing I’ve been given in reference to choice is my heritage. My family, though we haven’t always seen eye to eye, gave me an incredible foundation. Whether they meant to or not, they taught me to see things, really see them; not just for the way they appear to be on the surface, but for their truth. And they taught me to never follow anyone or anything blindly. They gave me a foundation of study.
My father has always had a very colorful way of teaching this lesson with phrases such as “Pull your head out of your ass” (not my favorite, but unfortunately the one I most often hear echoing in my head) and “Stay Sharp” and “Look Closer. Pay attention. Listen.” My family has a very firm set of opinions and beliefs and they’re not always the most popular. But what I can say with honesty, is that they didn’t come by these opinions by chance or just because someone told them to believe a certain way. They dug into things, really dug. They investigated. They educated themselves. They taught me not just their own choices, but why they chose them, why they are patriots and why they are Christians and why they chose to believe what they believe. They gave me their knowledge, handed me their tools and set me on my own journey of discovery. They gave me a solid foundation and then encouraged me to think and choose for myself.
This grateful challenge has shaken things up for me. It has uncovered these foundations, causing me to remember where I’ve come from, who I am now and who I’m becoming. It’s reminded me to be purposeful once again, to dig deeper, to look for the bigger picture I’m not always willing to see, instead of hiding from these things as I’ve done for so long. It is reminding me how important my courage is.
I’m recognizing more and more how important these foundations have been to my re-emerging courage and how much they have shaped me. I have a very firm set of opinions and beliefs myself. Though I may not completely line up with my beginnings now, the foundations passed down to me have strengthened me. Because of what they taught me, I am not easily influenced. I am not easily swayed. I am not easily provoked. And that has both saved and hindered me on more than one occasion.
But there is more to it than that.
Because of the cards life has dealt me and the relationships I’ve been blessed with, I have also learned the incredible value of compassion, mercy and most importantly, grace.
Foundations are important. Opinions make us human. Knowledge is an incredible thing. But without compassion, mercy and grace, there is no balance. There is nothing to be courageous for.
It takes courage to stand up for what you believe in. But it takes even more to listen, to sit down with the opposition and really listen, even if you know neither of you will change your minds.
It takes courage to feel compassion for your enemies and their pain from the comfort and safety of your side of things. It takes even more to step across the line and extend them mercy.
It takes courage to disagree with a giant. It takes even more to cover that giant in grace, even knowing it could destroy you.
I am blessed and I am grateful for both my foundations and my discoveries. I have much to learn still in the years ahead. My opinions will grow and change, I’m sure. Hopefully for the wiser. But I know the responsibility I have to the things I’ve been given and my eyes are wide open. And I recognize my life must be seasoned with both knowledge and grace.
America is my homeland. Christianity is my faith. But more important than those titles is the fact that I am a human, responsible to her blessings… blessings that have been seasoned with both solid foundations and enemies’ mercy, with both fact and compassion, and with both Knowledge and Grace.
Regardless of your faith or nationality or political stance, the truth for all of us, lies somewhere between Knowledge and Grace. Love, the thing we all desire, lies also between these two things. It may look very different to each of us. But of one thing I’m certain…
It takes great courage to carry them both.