No one is created perfect. No one lives a perfect life. Of course, that is an understatement.
I know of a man who killed his brother out of jealousy. I know of a woman who lied knowing it would ruin another’s life. I know of a mother who chose drugs and a life on the streets over her child.
I know of a father who deserted his family and left them to welfare. I know of a politician who went to jail for stealing campaign funds. I know of a nurse who killed nearly fifty patients.
I know of a doctor who killed hundreds of innocent babies for money. I know of a man who kidnapped children and kept them for years as sex objects. I know of a man who entered a crowd and began shooting.
You know these people, too. You’ve heard about them on the news. Maybe you’ve encountered people like them in your own life. Maybe you’re even one of them. They are many. They are legion. And they’ve always been with us.
From a view of loftiness, we may wonder what causes these violent, selfish behaviors. How do they happen?
Don’t point too stiff a finger. Each of us has the capacity to be violent or selfish. But each of us also has the capacity to be gentle and self-giving.
I also know of a man who saved his brother’s life, of a woman who I don’t believe has ever lied in her life. I know of many mothers and fathers who daily, and with much sacrifice, love and care for their children. I know of politicians not out for power or money, but in the service of others. I know of nurses who care deeply for the dying, and conscientious doctors who save the lives of a multitude of children and adults. I know of men who believe that sex is not selfish, but a self-giving gift to be shared only with his spouse.
What causes these behaviors? They’re so opposite from the ones first listed. How do they happen? How do we get to them? One word will answer: Grace.
Then how do we get to Grace?
We have God’s grace within us already, but many of us have covered it over with everything our conscience warns us against. We take the easy way. It’s almost as if we see ourselves as stuck in concrete and either can’t, or don’t want to, get out of –dare I say it–sin. We’ve allowed ourselves to become so distracted that many of us don’t acknowledge grace, or its power, at all.
Put the word ‘grace’ in Google and see what comes up first. It’s the name of a corporation. It’s an acronym to map the earth’s gravity. It’s part of the name of a TV show.
It’s too bad that the most important–and yes, crucial–meaning of the word is ignored. Because we need it. We ought to recognize it. We ought to act with it.
The grace of God is within our reach, so reach for it. Pray for it.
Kaye Park Hinckley writes Southern Fiction from a Catholic Perspective. Her debut novel, A Hunger in the Heart, about sin and salvation in a family, was published in April, 2013, by Tuscany Press. Her short stories have appeared in Dappled Things, the 2012 Tuscany Prize for Catholic Fiction anthology, and elsewhere. She and her husband live in Dothan, Alabama and have five children and nine grandchildren. Her website is www.kayeparkhinckley.com and her blog site is www.aworldontheedge.com. Kaye's short collection, Birds of a Feather, will be published by Wiseblood Books by July 2014.