My name wasn’t supposed to be Kelsey; it was supposed to be Grace. Actually, I was supposed to be named Sandra, but my aunt Sandra wouldn’t have that, and picked the name Kelsey instead. So my mom named me Kelsey, but often she tells me, “I love the name Grace. I should have named you that!” *Side note: I love my name. And if you would like to name your child Kelsey, I would be forever grateful!
I digress… Recently I had the pleasure of leading a bible study on 1 Corinthians. We talked about grace. What does it mean? How do we practice it? Grace, in my opinion, is a tricky concept and thus can be hard to practice. But I am going to make a bold claim: I believe that grace can change the world.
Author Kenneth Copeland wrote, “Grace is God’s overwhelming desire to treat you as if you had never sinned.” Through my study of grace, I have come to summarize it as intense love and radical acceptance. Let me repeat that: grace is intense love and radical acceptance. But how do we put this concept into practice? How to we receive grace? How do we give it?
First, we forgive. When someone has hurt us, it is natural to not want to forgive them. We may even hope that they suffer too, so they can experience our pain. Grace jumps in here and says, “I forgive you. I forgive you so deeply that I hope you don’t experience my pain.” That is intense love. Loving someone so intensely and intently that you give them grace. You forgive them without reservation. You love them so much that you hope for only the best for them.
But radical acceptance? I know what you’re thinking: Kelsey, how do I radically accept everyone? Here is the answer: one by one. We can be so quick to judge. And let’s be honest, judging people can be so easy and even amusing. But we all know what it is like to be on the other side of that judgement. It hurts. So I say, stop all the judgement. Accept others for exactly who they are and where they are in their life, regardless of if you like it or agree with it. And let others love and accept you, for exactly who you are and where you are in your life. And try to love and accept yourself that way, too.
Imagine this: you’re bearing your heart to someone new. You pause, waiting for judgement or condemnation. Instead, they tell you they love you so much. They tell you they accept you for exactly who you are, flaws and all. That thought warms your heart, doesn’t it? That is grace. Give it, receive it, and then go give it more! We can change the world, one act of grace at a time.
So, I think I’ll stick with the name Kelsey. But you can now call me Trying-to-be-more-grace-filled Kelsey! But don’t name your kid that…