The Case for Grace

Grace (def) Courteous goodwill.

I was driving with my boss, on our way to meet a new customer. I was in the middle lane of a three lane freeway, running at or just a little more than the speed limit. I could see the silver car, weaving in and out of lanes, at least ten miles per hour faster than the flow of traffic. I debated if I should lift off the throttle to create a bigger gap to the car ahead of me, maybe I even did a little. Then the car was alongside me and cutting into my lane, much too close. I hit the brakes, not too hard, but enough to create the space to keep from getting hit in the passenger side front quarter. My boss flinched and said something that sounded like ‘excrement’.

I was angry. That driver was being reckless. He nearly hit me and a number of other cars. I saw him coming in the mirror, so my reaction was almost pre-calculated, but what if he’d surprised me? What if he’d hit me, with my boss in the car. A thousand things ran through my head. None of them were good. I have to confess I wished severe consequences on that driver. But it didn’t make me feel better. Being indignant and offended is natural. But is it the best thing for us?

It turns out that our desire for revenge and holding grudges is very unhealthy. Justice is often delayed or (more frequently) denied altogether. And the truth is, even if you get your revenge, and the person who wrongs you is punished, celebrating it really doesn’t heal you does it? It turns out, the best thing for our souls (and our health) is grace. Why?

Cultivating the ability to let go of offenses frees our mental cycles to concentrate on things that really matter to us. Our jobs, our families, our faith. Conversely if you don’t release these burdens, you may train your mind to dwell on offenses, a focus that increases your stress level, potentially changing your perspective in ways you don’t even realize. Since our perspective impacts almost everything we do, the inability to let go of an offense can your literally shorten your life.

It turns out that the impacts of stress aren’t just mental or emotional. When we are stressed, our body releases Cortisol, a hormone that changes our body chemistry, including blood sugar levels. Chronic stress can impact our ability to sleep, promote anxiety and lead to serious health problems like heart attack and stroke. Yikes!

However, if we learn to release our stress, forgive offenses and cultivate a positive outlook, we enjoy better sleep, more energy, better personal relationships and potentially a longer life. And who doesn’t want that?

Why Fall is the Best Season


It’s autumn here in Michigan.  The time when the air turns cool in the evening, and the mornings are tinged in frost.  The leaves have changed, littered the yard in bright colors.  Despite the closing of summer, it’s a time of year I long ago came to enjoy.  While I’m a bit sad the the boat is put up for the winter, and the hard top is on the Jeep, I look forward to  greeting the day in a hunting blind, walking the trails through piles of crunchy leaves or standing on my deck in a sweatshirt and drinking coffee.

This is the season for making chili and campfires in the back yard.  Some years back we started a tradition of having friends over to celebrate this time of year.  Yes, another summer is behind us, but it’s pleasant to be able to spend the evening without having to worry about mosquitos.  I do lament the time change and the shorter days.  The sun goes down earlier and the mornings are dark longer.  But winter is still weeks away.  The nights are colder, but it makes for great sleeping and some of the days are still warm enough to enjoy being outside and even ride the motorcycle without having to bundle up too much.

I understand that the seasons you enjoy where you live may be different due to the climate.  So you’re mileage may vary, but here in Michigan, I enjoy fall more than summer if only because of the moderate temperatures and reduced effects of humidity.  Although we live in the north, it still get’s well over 90F in the heat of the summer and given that our state is a peninsula surrounded by lakes, the humidity is often well over 80%.  That starts to moderate in the fall.

A lot of people prefer spring, but spring here in Michigan is often the muddy season, especially for the first few weeks.  Yes, the grass will green up and the leaves are  filling the trees, but it’s almost constantly raining and gray.  The fishing season gives me much to look forward too, but the best days for that are ahead.

Winter seems to be everyone’s least favorite season.  There will be a short period of time when the air is frosty and crisp and snow blankets the ground and it’s beautiful, but mostly it will be cold, wet and nearly as muddy as spring.  There are a bright sparkling mornings to behold, but mostly we just bundle up, shovel snow and wait for warmer days.

For me, fall offers the best of the shoulder seasons without the harshness of the extremes of summer or winter, so it’s the season I look forward to the most.