It is interesting to me that both grace and gratitude come from the same Latin word gratus, which means pleasing, acceptable, agreeable, and thankful.
Last January, I posted that grace was my word of the year. And I am constantly talking about the importance of daily gratitude. So, imagine my surprise when I learned that these two important words shared the same root.
The World Needs More Grace and Gratitude
This year has been an incredibly challenging year for so many.
With wars in Ukraine and Israel, the cost of living increasing daily, and violence and antisemitism on the rise, there are a lot of hard things happening.
But as we celebrate this season of giving, there are a lot of good things happening as well.
Families and friends are coming together, connections are being made, and good people are still giving grace and practicing gratitude.
But there is always more that we can give.
I have learned that grace and gratitude are both expressions of love.
Grace is the loving act of accepting our best efforts and the best efforts of others. It is loving people for who they are—flaws and all.
Gratitude is the loving response we have to the good things and good people of the world. It is choosing to see the good in the world and being thankful for it.
Oftentimes, grace is a springboard for gratitude. When we give people grace, they express their gratitude in return.
Right now, the world needs more of this kind of love.
We need the grace to lovingly accept others regardless of their religion, their beliefs, the color of their skin, or what side of the political spectrum they reside on.
The dictionary defines grace as “courteous goodwill.” And what better time to show goodwill than during the holiday season?
Gratitude is equally as important.
We need gratitude to see the good that others are doing and thank them for it.
The dictionary defines gratitude as “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.”
No wonder grace and gratitude both came from the same root. Kindness and goodwill are what they are all about.
Grace and Gratitude Both Require Giving
In this season of giving, two of the greatest gifts we can give are gratitude and grace.
We can give gratitude by showing our appreciation for others.
We can show gratitude by thanking the cashier at the grocery store, holding the door open for a stranger, or buying coffee for the person behind us in line.
We can give gratitude to our family for the joy they bring to our lives. We can show appreciation for our spouse. We can thank our parents for raising us, and we can spend valuable time with friends and family this holiday season.
We can especially show our gratitude for the service men and women who give up their lives to fight for our freedom.
There are so many ways that we can give gratitude this holiday season.
The world desperately needs this gift. And it’s something we can easily give. No money is even required.
Grace is also something we can give a little more of this holiday season.
We can give grace to the toddler who is crying in the theater. We can give grace to the mother whose children are running around the department store.
We can give grace to the driver who cuts us off in traffic. We can give grace to the impatient person ahead of us in line.
We can give grace to the workers who are overworked and underpaid.
And above all, we can give a little more grace to ourselves.
The more we are able to give these gifts this holiday season, the more we will be able to receive them.
Gratitude and Grace Can Deepen Our Relationships
One of the things I have discovered about grace and gratitude is that when we give these gifts to the people around us, it strengthens and deepens our relationships.
And when we show kindness and goodwill to others without expecting anything in return, it creates a circle of giving that comes right back to bless us.
Grace and gratitude can serve as the glue that keeps relationships together.
When spouses, children, parents, friends, and neighbors express gratitude for one another’s contributions and extend grace for anything they lack, it strengthens connections.
This ability to praise the good while compassionately forgiving flaws is something we all need to learn.
The more we are able to do this for others, the more easily we will be able to do it for ourselves.
Grace and gratitude aren’t just gifts we need to give to others this holiday season. They are also gifts we need to give ourselves.
If we can learn to give ourselves grace for the things that we lack while showing gratitude for the things that we have and are, we will also deepen our relationship with ourselves.
This is incredibly important because your relationship with yourself is one of the most important relationships of all.
My Holiday Challenge
With so much sadness in the world today, I challenge each of us to approach this holiday season with a little more grace and gratitude.
If you are looking for ways to do that, here are some suggestions.
Self-Compassion: Extend grace to yourself by practicing self-compassion. Recognize that everyone is a work in progress, and the journey involves growth, learning, and occasional missteps. Treat yourself with the same kindness you would offer a friend.
Empathy for Others: Approach others with empathy and understanding. Recognize that each person is on their unique journey, facing their own challenges. By extending grace to others and showing our gratitude for them, we contribute to a more compassionate and empathetic community.
Mindful Presence: Practice mindfulness in your daily life, especially in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. Being present allows you to appreciate every moment, fostering a deep sense of gratitude for the experiences, both big and small, that make up your life’s journey.
Acts of Generosity: Engage in acts of generosity this holiday season without expecting anything in return. Small gestures of kindness have the power to create a positive ripple effect, promoting a culture of grace and gratitude.
I promise that if we take small steps to add a little more grace and gratitude to this holiday season, it will be a season of not only generous giving but also receiving.
As we give grace, we will receive gratitude. And as we give gratitude, we will receive grace.
That is the beauty of giving these amazing gifts—as we give, we will always and forever receive.