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South Africa
They say being ungracious is the quickest road to oblivion. Discover the importance of thoughtful and compassionate communication. Learn how to reserve comments, respond with fairness, and speak your truth with kindness. Explore the impact of grace on personal and professional relationships.

“When they go low, we aim high.”

– Michelle Obama.

In my childhood imagination, I used to think that grace was about having the gentility of a geisha pouring over some tea or a dancing ballerina or walking with the poise of a supermodel. I would overhear people saying: “Ooh, she walks with so much grace”, and “Have the grace of an angel”. It gave the impression that possessing grace was equal to perfection.

It took me so long to understand that grace, in its defined and exemplified term, is more than that. It has nothing to do with how you seem outside than how you feel inside. It all starts from within. It is about consistently finding the calm in the storm of the emotional and mental drama in our ordinary lives; then projecting only, which is good about our experiences.

A while ago, I was driving with a friend who was enduring a rather contentious separation from her husband.

Her husband, whom we shall call WP (Wandering Pipi), had not only abandoned her and their children but had been serially cheating on her with numerous women. This was after he had made her leave a good-paying job and insisted she become a stay-at-home mom.

My friend had experienced two years of financial and emotional abuse from WP. He would leave the house for days, in the guise of hustling for money to support the family. When he came back, he would come with nothing or so little to barely pay the essential bills. My friend had started selling Shein clothes and braiding people to make ends meet.

Eventually, in the second year of long-suffering and endurance, she decided to leave her marital home after luckily finding a job in another province. WP had only found out she had left two months after she had gone because he had not visited the house in a while. And now he wanted back in.

My story about grace starts here. I did not know what grace was until I witnessed it in my friend arguing with her estranged husband.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary describes grace as “a disposition to or an act or instance of kindness, courtesy, or clemency."

Grace applies more to those who have wounded you the most. Because how hard must it be to be kind to someone who has hurt us?

WP had called my friend while we were driving. He was furious. The reason? He had sent his uncles to apologize to her family and to pay traditional damages for her to take him back. (This is a traditional African custom when one party has wronged the other). He berated her and called her names.

I was seething with anger as I sat there, driving and listening to the exchange. I was screaming back internally and had a few choice words that I wished I could say out loud. But I could not say anything out of respect for my friend and sheer humility at how she calmly managed his petulance over the phone.

If that is not grace, then I don’t know what is. And for the first time, I saw grace in real-time through my adult eyes.

Faced with a situation where she too, could have lost her cool and fought back, she remained kind and patient. She remained rational. She remained factual. She. Mothered. Him. She mothered him until he stopped and eventually hung up.

They say being ungracious is the quickest road to oblivion. In the five minutes of conversation, the story would be different if both exchanged words in anger.

When it comes to testing your levels of grace, you have to allow the moment to refocus and discern it for what it is. It’s a split-second decision. In a single breath, you can wrestle with the pig before you or you can side-step the puddle.

We have all been guilty of getting entrapped into vicious cycles of reacting to what people say or act toward us. At some point in our lives, we have found ourselves in some kind of mud pit - fighting to stay on top of a situation to prove to those ‘against us’ that they’ve wronged us. The level of pettiness reached in these mud pits only dims our goodness and illuminates the chaos within our souls and minds. The whole cycle is exhausting and in moments of epiphanies, you may realize how much energy is wasted trying to get people to see your way.

Every emotional or mental trigger will itch for you to jump into the muddy fray. Your choices are what will characterize your grace.

Would getting dirty and arguing back be part of how you spent the day? Will this become a moment in your history where you fought back dirtily at the other person’s level? Will this be the day you gloat over their (imaginary – I hope.) corpse?

In my experience, I have realized that the exhibition of grace towards other people means that I have had to be tactful with my responses. Or not respond at all. The tongue can unleash the most damage, they say. And boy have I fought some pigs on occasion.

I have learned I lose nothing when I reserve my comments and not fight back dirty. Instead, I focus my energy on the triggers, thus discerning the mud pit for what it is – another person’s bad day that they are figuring out how to deal with.

Of course, it does not mean we become a doormat. Grace means knowing when to respond and how to respond without hurting. Grace means being firm but just. Taking the high road, calling out the bullshit for what it is, and moving on.

Human grace is that. It is about seeing the shit, stepping over it, and moving on. Love the unlovable. Let go of the unforgivable; do not allow it to poison your path to greatness.

If you must lose your calm, make sure you have all your facts in hand. Be fair with your argument. Use your words, speak the truth, and drag a b*tch with kindness.

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