grace. A lost art?

So this is something that has been on my mind for several weeks now, on and off. There is a surprising lack of grace in the world. Or maybe it is a perfection that we all strive to achieve and it’s just that very few even come close. We all have bad days, right? Do I just seem to meet everyone when they’re at their worst?

Let me be clear here. I’m specifically using grace in the lower case, and I do not mean the ballerina grace with which I wish I could move. (I try, I really do, but usually it is like that ostrich in Fantasia.) I do not mean spiritual Grace or Amazing Grace (how sweet the sound!) but a graceful behaviour. And to be fair, perhaps that can come in part from graceful movement and God’s Grace. The Merriam Webster dictionary (my favourite dictionary) says that grace is a “controlled, polite, and pleasant way of behaving.” That is EXACTLY what I strive for.

In my experience these days, I find that the women I meet are brash, rude, mean, selfish, and shallow. What happened to being polite? Do we have to be sarcastic and rude when we’re stressed? I’m not perfect at this but what does it mean to act gracefully?

It means holding in your sarcastic comment when something doesn’t go your way. It means thinking before you speak if you think something you say might hurt someone. It means, well, being a lady, not just a woman. I am a woman because I have made it past the age of eighteen or twenty-one or whatever age makes me an adult. I am a lady because I strive for grace. I want to be strong, yet kind; intelligent, yet considerate; mature, yet poised; fun, yet good. I am only twenty-eight years old and I try to be a good person and there is a whole lot of learning left to do.

As a woman, I want to be confident, interesting, and strong. I think I can do that and still be a lady. A woman stands up for herself. A lady stands up for herself and her beliefs without being rude. Patience is something I really need to work on, especially since I’m married to the world’s most patient man. But am I the only one striving to attain this grace of behaviour? Sometimes I feel like I am.

Songs on the radio. Movie and TV characters (especially sitcoms). My Facebook news feed, sometimes even my friends (usually the ones my age and younger–does grace just come with age?) Occasionally, I feel surrounded by the shallow and vulgar. Are there any female characters I would want my daughter emulating? (This is the hypothetical daughter that I’m not even close to having yet, btw.)

I have to admit that I’m terrified to have kids, not so much because of me and Sir, but because the society we live in can be harsh. Turning on the news, or reading the comments people write in online forums, can lead to tears at how horrible people can be. How does one raise strong, intelligent, confident and yet still kind, caring, and graceful kids in a world where adults rarely behave like adults? Remember in school when they told you to act your age? Adults throw the worst temper tantrums–just watch any reality television show. It is for this reason that I refuse to watch most reality shows. Cooking shows are about as real as I get. I don’t receive any enjoyment from watching women put their eight-year olds in more makeup than should be allowed so they can spite their way past the other girls so that they can live vicariously through their daughters and show them frequently the ugliest parts of femininity.

Doing girly things is fun. I like to cook and bake and I like my house to be clean and neat. (I do not enjoy cleaning–let’s be clear here.) But I love it when Sir takes me to the pistol range as well. I love to look pretty but I want to help people around me too. Can I be girly AND strong? More to the point, can I be the role model I want to be? I had excellent role models growing up, thank goodness. My mother, aunts, grandma, and teachers. Of course, I have bad days where I should not have been so short with another person, but I am really striving to make them not happen at all. I think that’s the point. I’m really working hard to be graceful. It doesn’t always come naturally but it’s worth it.

Grace has to be learned in the world we live in today. It is easy to get caught up in the vices that society tells us we should like. Bad things happen but there is a graceful way of handling things and that is why I feel there is a difference between being a woman and being a lady. I feel anxious sometimes but I remind myself not to take it out in a rude way towards others. I certainly don’t like everyone I encounter, but I hope I can find a way to learn to be polite even when I don’t want to be. Some days I’m better at it than others. I’m the first to admit that working in customer service and hospitality are definitely not for me. (I find it very difficult to remain calm and polite when I’m being yelled at irrationally for things that are beyond my control.) I’m not perfect but I strive and that’s the best I can do. But I will say, my best gets better all the time.

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