Leaving With Grace

DSCN0826 (1)I was a volunteer at a local restoration project. I was working very hard. I had reached a point where I was tired of doing it all for nothing. The Christian expression that a friend uses a lot is “the grace had gone”, which means the love, the joy, the being able to put the work at the castle first, not needing rewards apart from the joy of being, wasn’t there any more. It meant I was getting grouchy about it all and wanting to see wrong in it and everyone there. My husband said that it is psychologically proven that when people want to leave something – a job, project, relationship, town, etc – they find fault with it. But you see I didn’t want to leave not liking it there. I can see the castle from my study window. I also walk my dog in the grounds. I did not want to stop looking at it, stop going there, stop encouraging other people to go there. I didn’t want people to hear my bad mouthing it. So what to do?

Well, being a Christian, I spent a long time in prayer over how I would resign my post. Yes it wasn’t just that I was a volunteer but that I had a key post. I tried to not do anything and to say I was busy in the hope that they would get mad at me and ask me to leave. It didn’t work. It was time for me to grow up and take control. In the end I did manage to step down gracefully and leave as a friend. It does mean at times that I am called back to help – with events, with late evening lock ups, can still run my writing groups up there. It means I can still walk there, see the people involved and have a chat.

Then the other night I was at Dan Snow’s History Man event at a local theatre. At the end dan-snow-a5-2019-dates-lo-722x1024of every evening he always shares something on the local history of the area. Well one of the two places he picked was the castle where I used to volunteer. And he especially picked out the young man who runs the Trust and is the driving force in the restoration. Because I had left with grace and kindness, when I saw it and the things Dan Snow said about it my heart swelled with pride. Not because I had been a part of it but because I knew the person being honoured. I was proud of him. He is my friend. I was proud to hear him honoured. Proud that the place I used to be very involved in was one of only two places singled out in this area for Dan Snow to talk about. All this came about because I grew up and left with grace not with anger.

I am hoping I can take this onward as a life lesson for whatever I do next.

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Honouring!

vessel-of-honorA friend of mine writes extensively about honouring and I have tried for years to put it into practise. This morning though I was praying and meditating over some questions from Abbey of the Arts around starting the new year’s journey and what giftings one would bring, etc. I was happily listing mine and what I would share with others and how much I encourage and support people when I felt a gentle God nudge. I really felt I had to email my solicitor and say sorry for being rude. And once I got that nudge it wouldn’t let up and I couldn’t get any peace. So at 7.30am I was emailing the solicitor to say sorry for being rude but also felt able not to justify why I was rude but to explain why I was struggling with things.

I felt that the way I had behaved yesterday to her had not been honouring to her. In fact I’d almost been threatening, in a very low key way. Passive daab236dfa666f58eb8f024c4af3a0c9aggressive! It really was a case of looking at her as also a person in my world that I need to be kind to, to encouraging and remember that she is also made in the image of God, as are we all, or so I believe. Made in the image of God doesn’t mean that all people have to believe in God, Jesus, etc, but if I am to believe God made people I have to believe that He made all people, even my solicitor.

Well I was not expecting anything really back but I did get a response and in it she explained about the process that goes into buying a house, why it does take so long and what stage they had got to, and also that she was hurrying things along. Did I say sorry and act honouring to her to get a good response? No I didn’t. But through honouring her I got that response.

32ea802da3852cbb7404799e48eec0cdIt made me think of another exercise I am working through with Brene Brown around Trust. The first exercise is to look at things you put in your “marble jar” that help you trust people and what things hinder that. It dawned on me that I trust people who are open and honest to me, but also people who let me be me. and also those who admit when they’ve made a mistake and let me make mistakes. In the correspondence with my solicitor I broke down the barriers that were stopping me from trusting her. Yes I had to make the first move to get a marble in my marble jar but that was worth it.

As always Richard Rohr is on the same page and puts thing so succinctly:

‘Intimacy is another word for trustful, tender, and risky self-disclosure. None of us can go there without letting down our walls, manifesting our deeper self to another, and allowing the flow to happen. Often such vulnerability evokes and allows a similar vulnerability from the other side. Such was the divine hope in the humble revelation of God in the human body of Jesus.’

So for me the people who put marbles in my marble trust jar are people who behave trustfully and tender towards me and who disclose somethingvulnerability2 of themselves, but who also trust me and see me as tender and accepting, as vulnerable yet wanting to share. And I suppose this is a bit of what I did with the solicitor; not just saying sorry and leaving it at that but saying sorry and explaining why I was uptight.

Sometimes we are told to just “say sorry” but often, I believe, it is more helpful is we can explain why. So not so much “I’m sorry but …” but “I’m sorry for my behaviour and here are my fears/concerns which made me behave that way.” It is still keeping ownership and not saying the other person is to blame but it is also saying that I have a reason, however unreasonable, for my behaviour. It is not to excuse. In fact by saying “sorry and this is the reason” it makes one more vulnerable and allows the other person to be vulnerable. And vulnerability builds up trust but also is honour because it is about being open. If I am open to say how I feel but give room for the other person to say how they feel I am honouring them.

vulnerability21So one could say that I did have a good reason to be snappy with my solicitor but it was not honouring, but in saying sorry and explaining my side I have given space for her to explain and honour me too!