A few weeks ago, I wrote about my experience with mental illness and shared a few strategies that have helped me cope. But there’s something else that has helped me, too. It’s not really a coping mechanism, per se, because it’s always unplanned and unexpected. It’s more like the universe giving me a break or God giving me a hug.
I call it everyday grace.
It’s the neighbor that says hello when you’re feeling alone. It’s the book that brings you to tears when you need a good cry. It’s learning something new at the exact right time. It’s the sun peeking through the clouds when you can’t take one more second of gloom. It’s discovering that dipping a sweet cookie into black coffee is, in fact, the best start to any morning ever.
Everyday grace is all of the little things that keep us hoping and believing more joy is just around the corner.
There is a passage in the Hebrew Scriptures that refers to everyday grace as “merciful love.” It’s found in the book of Lamentations – a collection of poems mourning the suffering of Israel. Although it was written in the 6th century BC, I believe it describes our collective human experience quite succinctly:
“I’ll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness, the taste of ashes, the poison I’ve swallowed. I remember it all – oh, how well I remember – the feeling of hitting the bottom. But there’s one other thing I remember, and remembering, I keep a grip on hope: God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out, his merciful love couldn’t have dried up. They’re created new every morning.” (Lamentations 3:19-23, MSG)
I share this scripture to remind you that people have been struggling with despair for thousands of years, but people have also been experiencing merciful love for just as long.
The well of grace has not dried up.
Even if you don’t believe in God (which is totally fine!), especially an androcentric God (more power to you!), I think you could agree that merciful love still exists – that some mechanism in the universe brings you good, unearned things every day, that just when you think the depressing state of the world is going to consume you, love shows up somewhere in the darkness and shines the most brilliant light.
The problem, however, is usually not a lack of agreement that merciful love, or everyday grace, exists. The problem is acknowledgement. Just as the scriptures remind us – it’s the remembering.
As someone who has lived with anxiety and depression for over a decade, everyday grace is a life saver. It keeps me afloat when I’m drowning in a sea of despair or sinking in the quicksand of worry. But, it’s still easy to overlook or take for granted all of those good little things that come my way each day. Remembering what a blessing everyday grace really is requires mindfulness, and one of the best ways to remain mindful is to share your positive experiences with others.
So, in an attempt to be more mindful, I’m going to start sharing my experiences of everyday grace with you in my newsletter each week. It might be a short story from my week, a podcast episode that I loved, a delicious discovery or some other small thing that put a smile on my face. You can subscribe to my newsletter here, if you haven’t already. And, maybe, the everyday grace that comes my way can be passed on to bless you, too.