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TRIBEWORK is about consuming the process of life, the journey, together.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Ways of Interpersonal Grace

There is a grace of kind listening, as well as a grace of kind speaking.

Frederick William Faber (1814–1863)

How we speak

And how we listen

To attain the relational peak

Or just be plain missin’.

Kind listening is grace

And kind speaking is space

As two relate

One with another.

The achievement of grace

Is the purpose of our race

To coexist in the state

Of sister and brother.

When grace is on show

Between any two

There they both grow

Into a togetherness so true.



Speaking and listening in respectful ways is not simply about treating others as we would like to be treated, though I do not begrudge The Golden Rule of “treat others as you would wish to be treated.” No, speaking and listening in respectful ways runs to the core of seeing the other person as they truly are. Sure, we don’t want them to go through anything we wouldn’t want to go through, but we are also trying to live – in our relating with them – as if we were them. This can be difficult to understand: living for another person. But interpersonal grace is so much more than living solely in our own beings. We must simply try this, but we cannot understand it, nor implement it, unless we have dealt with our own stuff – that information we know about ourselves that we find irrepressibly sad and unacceptable.

Dealing with Our Stuff

There is so much safety of self involved in dealing in ways of interpersonal grace. We cannot sustain being ‘nice’ if we don’t feel ‘nice’ within – eventually our own self-defined and self-perpetuated nastiness, having not dealt with our stuff, will boil out and into the arena of public life, where it is no longer secret.

Relational sustainability finds its limits more within us than in any other person we meet. Even if the other person is broken beyond healing, and there are not many of those, God is able to grace us with the interpersonal ability to be friends. It is up to us, and not the other person, but we must deal with our truth; those truths that hold us back from becoming a person more fully reconciled as to accept oneself.


Once we understand that the relational life is all about interpersonal grace, then we may be a friend with everyone we meet. God is God for all, and just the same we are to be people who are for all people. Such grace in tolerance and acceptance, available to all, unconditionally, is the true gospel.

© 2014 S. J. Wickham.

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