Ok – so we are in this mindset of being a gracious woman. We are daily asking the Lord to let gracious words leave our mouth, to let our attitudes be gracious, to think gracious thoughts about the people in our lives, when – BAM! Out of left field, it feels like, someone snaps at us. We are left reeling, and if we aren’t ready for such instances, we will counter back at this person with equally ungracious sentiments.
When someone is ungracious to us, it hurts. It makes us feel like returning the same to them. Yet, I think we already know that this is not what God says will help us become more like Him. Growing in Christ is all about our conscience before God, and not the other person’s. I think of Abigail in the Bible. She is known for her wisdom, and through the account of her interchanges with her husband Nabal, the servants of her household, and King David, her gracious spirit shines. She is a great example of the fact that graciousness and wisdom go hand in hand; seeing these two things work together is a mark of spiritual maturity.
Unfortunately, I think ungracious women are more common in today’s world than gracious women. The world certainly isn’t encouraging women to be gracious, and I see that mentality creeping in among believers, too. Even in my own life, I did not start adulthood out as a very gracious woman, and though God has taught me some things about it since then, I still have so much to work on in this area. As I look back on the early years of my adulthood, I am ashamed to recall some instances where I know I was not gracious at all. Those times were usually times when I made a big deal about something that really didn’t need to be ostracized. Usually, the way I reacted to someone made me feel validated, but did nothing to edify them, and instead, made them feel belittled and unimportant.
What do we do when faced with more of the ungracious than the gracious? A good first step is to bite your tongue. This is not easy. Most of us want to put someone in their place, either with direct words or in a roundabout way. Yet, this is not our job; it is the job of the Holy Spirit. Of course there is a time and a place for instruction, but proper edifying comes from a heart of humility and not from a heart of personal ulterior motives. The next time someone is ungracious, fight the urge to take over the conversation.
Conversations that become ungracious are very awkward. Sometimes, people use complete honesty without thought of timing or tact, and this becomes uncomfortable to a gracious woman. Part of being a gracious woman is knowing how to work through awkward conversations or circumstances! Find something to say that changes the subject without being overtly obvious. If the ungracious person is perhaps speaking unkindly about someone, suggest you and she pray for that person on the spot (praying right then and there has a way of hushing up ungraciousness).
There are other times when you’ve been asked to do something that you really don’t want to do. It is very easy to become ungracious in your spirit as you follow through with whatever it is. Instead of going through the motions giving your bare minimum (trust me, friends, I have been there), embrace your role and make the most of it. I’m not saying you should manufacture an attitude that is not genuine; however, faithfulness from a heart postured towards pure service tends to leave you with the joy of the Lord. Rather than wanting to find fulfillment in the task you’ve been given, let the Lord be your sufficiency. Hebrews 12:2 – “…Jesus…who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross…”. If Jesus can go to the cross, the ultimate sacrifice, with joy, I think we can go through something that isn’t our favorite with graciousness.
Another time ungraciousness pops up is with strangers while we are out shopping. We feel insulted so easily by one little statement a person can make to us. Just the other day, I was at Ross and waiting my turn in line. Before the person in front of me had even paid, the cashier was calling out “next in line” over and over. I kind of waited because her current customer wasn’t done at the counter yet, but she just started
saying it louder and more forcefully. I was very annoyed inside, and it didn’t get any better as she rang up my things. She never once made eye contact and then did the same thing – before I had paid, she was calling the next person! Her lack of customer service was ungracious, but so was my lack of an attempt to be kind to her. I let her bad day momentarily affect me, and not long after I left the store I remembered all of our gracious woman posts and had to ask the Lord to forgive me for how quickly I had laid aside graciousness. Oh, I never said anything unkind to her, but I took her actions personally instead of letting them roll off my back. I’m sure you can think of times in public when a sales associate has been rude to you or perhaps another shopper has made some comment about your kids’ behavior. It is sad how easily we jump on perfect strangers with conclusions and offenses. Though the world lives this way, daughters of the King should be choosing the higher road, every time.
We know we are supposed to be gracious, but I think we often forget to be. (Forgetting is not a good excuse, by the way!) Working on graciousness is such a fabulous way to grow as a Christian. A gracious spirit makes it possible to exercise the fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance! Noting ungraciousness around us can be discouraging. But, let the awareness of it make us reflect not so much on the way other people are exhibiting it, but more on the way it may be manifesting itself in our own lives. A gracious woman is so focused on being like Christ that she isn’t easily blindsided by the ungraciousness of others. She is ready to deflect it with the love of Christ, one smile at a time.
Psalm 103:8 – “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.”