A few minutes before, I’d reprimanded my daughter like a hardened kitchen cop.
“Dinner is almost ready,” I warned, her chip-laden hand halfway to her mouth. “No more snacks.”
This was my peanut-sized grade-school girl who loved to devour junk food but when dinner rolled around, couldn’t find the stomach for a healthy meal.
“I’m not hungry,” was her typical defense.
After parenting six kids, I’ve learned “not hungry” is French for “My princess stomach is bloated with potato chips.” This was our ongoing argument, the near-daily battle. I was so over it.
I turned back to the stove to finish final dinner preparations, willing myself to breathe. That’s when, God love her, I heard her sneak another snack-a-licious bite.
Thoroughly irritated, I whipped around.
“I said no more chips! When I say something, I mean it. And I expect you to respect it.” I gave her my best authoritative mom glare.
She blinked, eyes round.
“I know,” she said with a shrug. “I was just drinking my milk.”
My turn to blink. I looked at the kitchen counter, and sure enough the snacks were put away. Instead, a small cup of milk.
What I’d heard as a “crunch” was actually more of a “slurp.” I might’ve pulled my gun too quickly.
“Oh.” I offered my best penitent smile. “I-I thought I heard you eating again. My mistake.”
She smiled back. “That’s okay, Mom.”
And, that was that. No drama, retaliation, or arguing. I messed up. She forgave me. Life moved on. And the words that came to mind as I looked at my daughter were these:
Wow. Grace looks good on you, Girl.
My daughter’s maturity in that moment surprised me. And delighted me. However, on the heels of that delight sat a painful discovery: my response to everyday irritations is rarely as quick and kind. Instead, at times I prefer to coddle my hurt, maybe make those who wronged me grovel just a bit and pay for their blunder. Their discomfort makes me feel better, right?
In spite of the misery of unforgiveness, grace is not always my automatic response. It’s much easier to be irritated, incensed, indignant. Much easier to ruminate on wrongs done, maybe offer a cold shoulder or hot glare here and there.
Sounds ugly, doesn’t it? Because it is. A life decorated by bitterness and unforgiveness doesn’t wear well. A life dressed in grace, however, never goes out of style.
Let love and faithfulness never leave you;
bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.
Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.
Proverbs 3:3 (NIV)
Fools show their annoyance at once, but the prudent overlook an insult.
Proverbs 12:16 (NIV)
A person finds joy in giving an apt reply — and how good is a timely word!
Proverbs 15:23 (NIV)
Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.
Proverbs 16:24 (NIV)
Here’s the unaccessorized truth, sisters: Grace looks good on you. And on me. Far more eye-grabbing than a grudge. So why do we waste so much time coddling our offenses and irritations?
Your best beauty investment isn’t in your dress but your demeanor.
Grace transforms our appearance, from the inside out, producing beauty that is far from superficial. It makes a soul glow, a face shine. It’s the single best way to add years to your life, improve your health, dive deeper into meaningful relationships, break the iron grip of past memories and regrets, and bring healing to hurts, including your own.
And the best news? It doesn’t cost a dime, except for a bit of effort and pride.
But that’s only the beginning. The real secret of grace is that it transforms the receiver as much as the giver. The ease with which my daughter forgave me in the kitchen changed how I responded to the rest of the family that day. To be the recipient of unmerited love is like throwing your head back and guzzling fresh cold water after a long, hard day in the heat. It refreshes the spirit, fills the soul, and gives a girl that much more to turn around and give away.
Time for a change, friends. Let’s develop a new impulse, a new reaction, a new beauty regimen. Rather than whipping out offense at the first indiscretion, let’s slow down and reach for grace. Let’s take off the drama, the back-biting, and grudge-holding. And let’s put on kindness and patience, practicing grace until it turns second nature.
Because grace looks good on you, Girl.