Grace or Karma?



Bono once told an interviewer that the thing that keeps him on his knees is the difference between Grace and Karma.

Karma is when my kids eat all of the ice cream when I told them not to, then later at McDonalds there are only enough French Fries for me (well, that is usually how it is anyways, no change). “Oops” says the Universe. Or if one of the kids puts dirty shoe prints all over the back of my freshly cleaned car, then I put a dirty shoe print all over the back of their freshly cleaned head. “Oops,” there goes the Universe again. Or if my kids complain all week they are tired and make me pay for waking them up to get to school on time, and on Saturday I wake up early and one of them is awake at 6am because they just can’t sleep. Karma makes the power go out and has me accidentally pouring ice water on them. “Oops” the Universe is just balancing things out. (This is kinda fun…)

Grace is where I get what I don’t deserve and when I don’t get what I deserve. Like getting enough sleep, a parking stall right in front of my house, a lawn that does not have a giant hole in the middle of my back yard (from the stupid trampoline) or having enough ketchup left for me to enjoy my hard fought French Fries.

What I don’t deserve is a hug after I have been a jerk, it is a kind word at work when the week has been too-damned-long, it is a stranger commenting that they have learned something from me about exercise, it is humor and art. Grace does not give me what I really deserve when it does not keep tabs (even though I sometimes do). In my life I have lied, stolen, broken the law (speeding), plotted the overthrow of my parents, been rude, gleefully helped everyone else finish their Halloween candy without them knowing, hated and judged, lusted, been ungrateful and selfish, snuck food and kept it for myself, ignored others in need. Karma is a Bitch and Karma would kick me in the ass. Karma would give me what I deserve. The Universe is not friendly, so I am thankful for Grace.


Grace is a No Fail Space… NFS. “NFS” sounds like shorthand for a swearword, a code for something we shouldn’t be talking about. If my parents hear this, they will frown. NFS: No Fail Space. We need to have a corner of our lives where we can’t fail, a little Grace left next to the pocket lint, a get out of jail free card. A place where we can be vulnerable. If you have not listened to the Ted Talk by Brenee Brown on Vulnerability, click here. That is grace, a friend who loves and accepts when we fear we will be judged.

In my life, when I have experienced Grace, that is when I have grown the most. Getting what I have deserved, Karma, has made me mature but it has created some thick emotional callouses. “Life is hard, get used to it” does not make for a warmer, more loving approach. I once worked for a boss who seemed good at everything, funny and well spoken. I felt intimidated and inferior. It felt like I could not do anything right. Even my timesheets were a disaster. She sent back corrections each week and I somehow could not understand anything that she asked me to do. Me and numbers just don’t talk. Then I screwed up at work and did something that I probably should have been fired for. But she didn’t. In fact, she defended me and stuck with me through a discipline process and long after. Long after she left the organization, I went on to become a Supervisor where I correct other people’s timesheets. Whenever I am tempted to get angry at repetitive mistakes, I think Grace not Karma. I am glad for the No Fail Space.

Who is your NFS person? Where do you go when you need a sprinkling of Grace? Sometimes a walk outside, humor, art, a long drive, a cup of coffee to quiet the mind may be the Grace you need. Take some for yourself today!

Keep it real.

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