When I was an undergraduate psychology major, I took a therapeutic techniques class. My main take-away from that course was empathy training, a technique that fosters genuine understanding, validating and seeing. Then, in graduate school, as a sociology major, I learned the profound concept of “verstehen”- a German word that describes the need to put oneself in another person’s shoes. I was amazed how this concept enabled me to see issues like racism and poverty in a new way. These two learnings have transformed my life, my marriage, the way I parent, and how I see the world. However, as you can imagine, the application of these concepts were very different in my 20’s versus my 40’s. Life happens and you begin to see that things are not what they seem. Enter sign. Grace upon grace. I think this sign is meaningful to me because it encapsulates both empathy and verstehen, not to mention a foundational element of my faith. I have this sign at work and at home, as a reminder to extend grace to others and to myself. Yes, I need a sign! As we are in a pandemic, this concept couldn’t be more appropriate. Many are paralyzed with fear, buying toilet paper and flour in unthinkable amounts. Grace upon grace. Many shame others who don’t stay home, believing a social distancing walk with a friend jeopardizes the heath of our community. Grace upon grace. Others say our nation is overreacting, proposing the numbers are inflated. Grace upon grace. On so many levels, this is a challenging time. Our framework is typically influenced by our circumstances, environment, culture, etc. So, maybe the initial hoarder who started the toilet paper frenzy grew up in poverty and was simply trying to plan ahead. Maybe the person who wrote a divisive post about reopening the economy lost his/her job and 20 years of investment in retirement. Grace upon grace. Now, I’m very well aware that this concept is not going to solve a global crisis, but for me, it has solved an internal crisis. There is so much evidence of greed, shame, and divisiveness now, and the only thing that really makes sense to me is grace upon grace.
One committed to processing truth, finding light in the darkness, savoring the simple, and living fully.