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Summary: HOW CAN I BE GRACIOUS WHEN I’M OVERLY TIRED AND BOGGED DOWN IN RESPONSIBILITIES THAT DRAIN AND DEPLETE MY STORE OF GOODWILL?

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Rom 12: 10,12 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; 12 Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;

I was painting the porch of my small apartment late one August afternoon when a band of boys playing cops and robbers among the trees of the neighborhood stopped to see what I was doing. The leader, a youngster who looked to be about ten years old, with curly, carrot-colored hair, stood, hands in pockets, surveying me. Bolder than the rest, he came closer.

“Ma’am,” he said politely, “did you know you have green paint on your face?”

Before I could reply, he quickly added, “But it looks good on you!” He flashed me a grin; then, as swiftly as they had appeared, he and his entire force ran off to restore law and order in the blackberry forest.

That young man will have an easy time in this world. I’m sure of it. His natural tact and goodwill are bound to win him many friends, open doors, and provide opportunities.

For some, like this friendly ten-year-old, graciousness seems to be inborn, instinctive. Most of us have to work at it. In the bustle of everyday life we tend to put courtesy aside. And that lack of courtesy can easily become a way of life that shows on our scowling faces, in our gestures of impatience, or in our constant flurry to get things done.

Graciousness. What is this quality that makes even the plainest woman beautiful? That transforms the most everyday person into a being of nobility?

HOW CAN I BE GRACIOUS WHEN I’M OVERLY TIRED AND BOGGED DOWN IN RESPONSIBILITIES THAT DRAIN AND DEPLETE MY STORE OF GOODWILL?

The gracious person is marked by the Christian qualities of kindness and courtesy. He or she is a delight to be with. He’s graceful with tact and delicacy. She puts us at ease. Graciousness involves giving of oneself. It’s reciprocal, giving and receiving with equal poise. It says thank you, replenishing the giver with compliments from the heart. It softens hurtful truth.

It accepts defeat without sourness; winning without haughtiness. Graciousness pays its own way in giving, and it does so anonymously, turning its gaze to avoid the eyes of the receiver.

Graciousness is my neighbor reaching over the fence to pull my weeds. It’s my son helping his great-grandmother out of the car and into her house.

Without graciousness we’re present in body only, offering no real substance of our spirit, even to those closest to us. How often have we stared blankly into our child’s eyes without hearing a word that was spoken?

The simple art of being gracious can rescue a marriage on the brink of divorce. A friend told me recently about the near-disaster of her marriage. She and her husband would arrive home from their jobs in the evening, each emotionally drained from the day’s activities. “We fell into a routine of grouching and picking at one another,” she said. When she realized what was happening, she vowed to change. “We wouldn’t have dreamed of treating a guest the way we were treating one another!” she admitted.

After prayer, it was easier to greet her husband at the door with a smile and a kiss. “The change in our lives has been miraculous,” she told me. “We’ve become like honeymooners again!”

Kindness, like the ripples from a pebble thrown into a still pond, creates a series of concentric rings, a series of happenings, that radiate out into the world, penetrating the hard shell of hate and indifference.

Graciousness demands of us what’s best in our human potential. It draws from us a vital investment and a fresh reinvestment every day. This is why the truly gracious person is never a bore and why we seek his or her presence.

When I think of graciousness, I have in mind a friend. He’s interested in others and lets it show. Through his conversation he relays compassion and genuine caring. Unlike him, many of us hold back, fearful of intimacy, of expressing our deepest feelings, afraid of getting involved, and reluctant to expose too much of ourselves.

My friend puts me at ease by creating an atmosphere of acceptance. In his presence I don’t feel pressed to be witty, well-read—or even cheerful if I don’t feel like it. He accepts my moods as he welcomes the variations in the weather. If I go to him with a problem, he’s supportive. Whenever I’m perplexed about something, he pulls a similar problem out of his stock of memories. He’s had troubles, too, or knows someone who’s suffered similarly. Always he encourages. I come away feeling that I’ve been heard and understood and counseled wisely. And best of all, this friend is my husband!

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