Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Martha Thinks Grace is Keeping The (Wo)Man Down

Did your mama ever tell you that if you can't say something nice you shouldn't say anything at all?

My mom didn't. That's not how the women of my family roll, which is probably why I had a problem with this post. I just don't have anything nice to say about the word "grace."

It's not what grace means. It's what I think it means. There, I admit it, the problem lies with me.

I hear "grace," and I think "What? I'm not good enough for you the way I am? You need me to hold my head high and throw my shoulders back and float through a room, too?"

Women already yearn to be so many things: smart, sassy, witty, modest, popular, funny, intelligent. I'm not adding graceful to that list. To top it off, grace seems to be about maximizing the experience of the person watching me, instead of my own.

So I'll leave grace to the other ladies out there. It's not for me.


Unknown said...

I'm confused by the spiritual meaning of grace -- raised an atheist and all. Even though Amazing Grace makes me weep like a baby when it's played right.

But worldly grace isn't about floating through a room. It's about compassion, I think, more than manners. And I'll bet you've got plenty of that.

Grace is giving a frail person your seat on the bus without making them ask. Grace is giving a person space when they need it, a hug when they need that, and knowing which time is which.

Grace is about quietly insisting on the truth when it'd be easier on the system if you didn't.

Which is why I think all writers who struggle to pull up that scary stuff from way inside and share it with others have grace.

During the brief time I lived in L.A., I was in Westwood a lot, going to UCLA screenwriting program. I had to concentrate not to roll my eyes at the preppy girls (it was the 90s. Why were there still preppies?) with expensive haircuts and vapid conversations. I was thinking something uncharitable about a slender blond woman in UCLA sweats but perfectly coiffed hair when she stopped and handed her lunch to a homeless guy who was so out of it he wasn't even begging, just sitting there trying to recoup.

She assured him she couldn't eat another bite, made him feel like he was doing her a favor. Her kindness was not forced but natural, unselfconscious, grace.

I felt like a damn fool.

Anonymous said...

Amen to that, sister.

Rachael Herron said...

Hell to the yeah.

Anonymous said...

Martha Wrote:
"So I'll leave grace to the other ladies out there. It's not for me..."

Wow, how sad for you. Your inference that grace is only about women is sexist and divisive. Suggest you reread Hard Boiled Mysti's comment. Your life and the lives of those around you will be better for it.

Martha Flynn said...

Whaaaaaa - a critical comment that makes inferences about the quality of my life signed as "anonymous"?? Perhaps my next sexist post shall be about having balls....

Mysti - Always love having your comments! I willingly admit that I associate negative connotations to grace, and its spiritual denotation doesn't even enter my mind when I think of it. I will say that this past week for me has been filled with a funeral, a wedding, two bachelorette parties, a birth and three birthdays - and under the strictest definition of the word - I've been surrounded by grace.

Unknown said...

Hmmm. Mysti--I love it when my own prejudices are challenged (even tho I try not to be) and you showed your grace by feeling the fool :) :)

Anonymous--I know I shouldn't do this, but knowing Martha I totally get where she's coming from. And believe me when I tell you that the life of anyone who knows her is enriched just by being in her sphere. My life is already better by knowing her. :) of course, this is all coming from someone who got her hair stuck in a vacuum cleaner so clearly I'm not grace*ful* *bg*

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