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Soul Care in Tough Times: Err on the Side of Grace

Updated: Aug 9, 2022

There are just some days, weeks, months, and even years that seem require extra care. I know that I’ve had a few of these moments and days in which I find myself a bit more anxious, grumpy, overwhelmed and just plain weary. It’s difficult for me to admit this, but I know I’m not alone in this because every week I have someone share with me how they are feeling this strain as well.

Why? Aren’t we almost through this pandemic? Maybe….though the world seems different. We are different. And it is important to remember that change is uncomfortable and we are all trying to figure out what ‘normal’ looks like or if it is even possible. When WILL things go back to normal? Again, I’m not sure. And again, admitting that is tough….but honest.

But you are not alone in this. Strangely, these past few years have been a communal experience in ways we will probably be unpacking for years to come. Teachers share that they see this humming anxiety in their students. People who work in retail say that emotions run high in their customers, and people seem to be operating at a high stress level that can bring out the worst in people. We see people losing their minds about things or situations that do not match their reactions. That is stress. And fault lines are popping up in all of us, it seems.

Something I learned in working with children who have experienced trauma is that there is often so much going on behind the scenes. When a child threw a fit or started acting out—there was almost always a reason behind the behavior.

We were trained as case workers to try to find a need they were trying to have met. An emotion or experience behind the behavior.

And as crazy as it seemed, oftentimes the best response was to stop, take a breath and ask if they needed a hug or some time to cool off. Oftentimes, they just needed a little of bit of extra love, patience, and grace.

And many of the people around us (including ourselves) are in need of some extra love, patience and grace. You might not ‘see’ their need and they might not even know what the need is….but you can never go wrong with erring on the side of grace. Take a step back and consider for a moment that this person standing in front of you or on the other end of the phone or screen has possibly endured battles you cannot see. It doesn’t excuse bad behavior, but it sure does shed light on it. And as satisfying as it might seem to respond with a look or a comment—err on the side of grace.

We see Jesus doing this over and over in the Gospels. Rather than scolding people, he asked questions. Took time to chat by a well. Made sure people were fed. Let them take a nap. In fact, Jesus made time to take a nap, He erred on the side of grace. That’s a pretty good example to follow.

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