Encounters with Grace

Our biggest struggles in life are not with external circumstances like a business failure or a divorce. Rather, we wrestle mostly with our inner struggles like insecurity and reactivity that emerge in our crisis moments.

This blog is about encounters with grace in the midst of our internal civil war. The point of view one adopts towards this redemption story depends on whether one is a realist or an idealist in regard to human nature.

Realists view human nature as deeply flawed. By contrast, the idealists see us a brimming with nothing but positive potential flowing from our inner golden nature.

In my early years, especially from my theological training, I was a realist that viewed human nature as so broken that it could not be fixed even with our best efforts.

My subsequent experience with humanistic psychology led me to an entirely different conclusion. I came to believe that we as humans are essentially good and that we can trust this innately good self. All our inner nature needed was self-actualization and expression.

Today the idealist and the realist in me are married. As a result of that imperfect and at times strained union a third entity has evolved. Call it a reformed realist or a modified idealist.

In “The Road to Character” (incidentally I would rate this book as my most instructive read in years) author David Brooks sees a place for both the realist and the idealist in our internal drama.

When we are brought to our knees with this fragmented self, grace suddenly appears, sometimes completely out of left field. It pulls and prods us to the vertical dimension that some call god, others see in the acceptance of friends and family, and others as a mysterious inner resource beyond intellectual knowing.

Brooks writes that you “reach out to something outside of yourself to cope with the forces within yourself.” In those moments grace, an unconditional love that accepts us for what we are, finds us.

For me grace shows up in my moments of greatest defeat and desperation when my deepest flaws are exposed. It is in that kind of struggle where I relinquish the illusion of control over my life and my arrogant belief that I may have the answers.

As I surrender to grace I begin to know the experience of “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound.” As a result of that internal struggle Brooks sees that, “we are better people today that we were yesterday.”


About cedricj

I am a licensed psychologist and management consultant and have always been intrigued by how leaders can inspire people in their organizations. The bottom line is that people are not always motivated by material rewards, the use of the carrot or the stick, fear and intimidation,and command and control, Five human needs inspire and drive us. Kristine S MacKain, Ph.D and myself describe these inspirational forces in our book "What Inspirational Leaders Do" (Kindle 2008)
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