The mesage of grace: Be known as a woman of grace. Hold yourself to a standard of grace, not perfection and remember to extend that same measure of grace to others.
I am from one of the biggest churches in Singapore, and known internationally for its message of Grace.
Just this weekend, I sat (albeit nonchalantly) in this grand theatre of the STAR building, listening to my Pastor’s sermon, which as usual, is infused with grace.
“Just another day in New Creation Church,” I thought to myself.
I’ll admit to you right now that I do feel a little ashamed for dismissing the importance of hearing about grace because it seemed to me that my pastor had been harping on the same message for years.
Then Monday came and a few things happened which inspired me to write this post.
Remember the MEAN GIRLS
movie back in 2004?
Firstly, mean girls doesn’t mean that MEAN WOMEN do not exist. They do, as I will share a few stories with you further along this post.
Women are different creatures from men. They are more sensitive, intuitive – they generally feel more. With such great capacity of feelings, they also go to the far end of the spectrum. They can be really nasty and mean.
This calls for a time of reflection for all of us:
Do we want to be known as a MEAN person? Or do we want to be known for our GRACE?
We use the meaning of grace in several ways. The closest definition I could find is:
Grace: a period officially
allowed for payment of a sum due or for compliance with a law or
condition, especially an extended period granted as a special favor.“another three days’ grace”
Or in my words – a person who is more generous than expected (not necessarily referring to money)
I’m completing my second year of my studies for a ballet teaching certification. I had recently submitted my assignment to my tutor via email. It is common practice to convert your file into a PDF, so as to ensure that it would not be tampered with. I had no issues with this throughout my course, except when it came to this rather mature tutor – who may not be as computer savvy.
I received a rather rude reply from the tutor:
“You have sent me your work in PDF again. This is fine if you do not want me to grade your work and give you feedback.”
Usually the other tutors in the course write their feedback on a separate mark sheet or simply typed into an email.
Also, the previous pdf document I sent her wasn’t a required assignment. It was simply a lesson plan that she demanded to see the week before my studio/classroom visit. The actual course requirement was for her to receive it on the day of her studio visit, where she would comment AFTER I’ve conducted the class.
Anyhow, I thought that was rather mean.
She has a reputation of being mean in the industry. Being rather advanced in age in a country where ballet is still rather underdeveloped, she is known to bully others because of her seniority. My friend had been kicked out of her dance school without her fees being returned and not allowed to do her ballet exam (which she had been preparing for 2 years) because she changed her examination dates without notifying her.
While I’m not here to argue who is correct, all I’m saying that she is thus known for being mean.
She could have responded saying, “Eunice, would you mind sending all your work to me in WORD document from now on? I prefer typing straight into it.”
She could have been a woman of grace if she told my friend, “Please know that you cannot take matters into your own hands. I would like to know if you have changed your examination dates so we would know how to prepare you better for your ballet exam. Please do not do this again.”
My husband takes cello lessons from this rather well-known cellist from Europe. As Singapore is rather small, it was not easy to find a good teacher.
Last weekend, her dog chewed off one of his flip-flops, making it unwearable, and he had to hop to his car on one foot to get to his shoes. She (his teacher) felt bad and had asked, “What is your size? I’ll get you another pair.”
He replied, “Let me check how much it costs (as he can’t remember)”. It is not simply a pair of flip-flops to get to the supermarket, it was a rather high quality designer pair.
She nodded and he thought it was the end of it.
When he told me about it, I said, “Oh, please forget it. Don’t bother asking her to pay.” This is because in Asian culture, it is polite manners to appear generous and not count these costs, even though secretly we are grumpy about it. We’re taught to save face (and not look like a miserly calculative person). However, from his impression, it felt like she was insisting that it was the right thing to do – to compensate him.
They were arranging for the following cello lesson via Whatsapp. They confirmed to meet at 10 am on the weekend, and he added (maybe tongue in cheek or maybe from previous impression – which I disapprove) that he was going to buy a new pair of flip flops in his up and coming trip to Bali, Indonesia there. It will cost $22, half the price if bought in Singapore.
She took offense and said, “What about all the extra time I gave you for free when we go overtime? So I should charge you all the extra $15 several times.”
He got annoyed and replied, “Look, there were many times you ended 10 minutes early and I never bothered because I didn’t know we were counting. But anyway, let’s not let a pair of flip-flops get in the way of our relationship.” (Also, he wasn’t watching the clock during lesson. AND he didn’t ask for those extra minutes. She extended it on her own accord – not that he wasn’t grateful).
And this is the part I couldn’t believe.
She replied, “Please message me your bank account details. I will refund you for the remaining two lessons.”
He was shocked and said, “I didn’t ask for a refund of lessons. I was just replying to your previous inquiry about replacing my flip-flops.”
She rudely replied, “We are done so please message me your account details.”
He replied (even though he was hopping mad), “I’m sorry that it had to end this way. Thanks for all your help.”
Which she did not reply.
When he told me all this, I was very annoyed. What a mean woman! I thought. First of all, she knew my husband really liked her teaching. When she moved to a faraway and inconvenient location, he stopped lessons for a while and tried other teachers. He couldn’t progress in a way that he liked and went back to her despite the inconvenience and her price increase.
Secondly, it is such a small matter. Even if she didn’t think she should pay for his flip-flops (which she sort of offered in the first place), she could have just said so. It might make things awkward for a while, but this is life! We will always have conflicts here and there and it is our job to work it out responsibly.
Thirdly, I felt that she knew how much he wanted her to teach him and tried to do this to ‘hurt him’ because she was offended. Of course, it didn’t matter if she earned money or not, she had a wealthy husband to support her. That is why she could do this. If she had to pay the bills, maybe she would have to work through her emotions and see this matter as simply one of those things we have to work through when we’re committed to our work.
It is such a mean thing to do, for such a petty situation.
After seething and frowning about these two incidences, I thought long and hard about mean women, his cello teacher, my course tutor and other mean women incidences . Why do these talented, accomplished women had such a character to match?
When I was much younger, it is funny how I used to think of all my favorite teachers with this angelic, adoring love for them. As I grew older, I realized there are so many really good teachers with kind of a contrasting rather not-so-angelic character. Maybe it is because I’m older now and can read people better?
BEING A WOMAN OF GRACE
I thought how important it is for us to ACT with grace. I had recently posted a quote on my Instagram (@elegantwomanorg) and that inspired this article.
Usually these mean women are highly accomplished (though not necessarily so as well), because they hold themselves to such a high standards. They aim for perfection, which explains why they are so accomplished. While, that’s really good, unfortunately they also hold their same high standards FOR everyone else. If it is not their way, other people are shown the highway. They use their capacity to be mean and bully others.
They think they are deserving of their success and whatever they do is right. And anyone who does not align themselves with them should be thrown out on the street. Whether or not that is correct, they are also harming themselves without knowing. There are times in life when they cannot achieve what they want and sadly, they are usually very hard on themselves too. The intensity of failure will hit them hard and it is not such a great way to handle the ups and downs in life. When you’re so hard on yourself, you become extremely self-occupied. You won’t be able to see or help those who need you the most. 🙁
Let’s get this straight. No matter how high your standards are, or how highly accomplished you are….NO ONE is perfect, or can achieve perfection. If you think you’re perfect, hey, you’re either rather ignorant or have a self-righteous attitude. (Thus, don’t be a hater on social media too – that is meanness).
I can remember every mean girl in school. And now with Facebook and other social media, it is easy to follow their lives. It is not that they did not achieve success. It is strange but they have not changed. Almost surprisingly, They are still mean. I wonder what does it take for them to act with grace?
Maybe they need to be in a desperate situation where someone else acted with grace toward them …I’m not too sure. 🙂
Doesn’t matter. We don’t have to be that way.
Even then, there will be times when you’re down because you didn’t hit the mark. This message is to encourage all of you to be have a little grace with yourself especially if you know you did try, and not to give up on yourself when you’ve made several boo-boos or had failures.
Just we depend on God’s grace, as we let go of our perfectionism, we also must remember to extend that same grace to others. Don’t be known for your meanness. Be known for your grace!
Stay positive, remember all the times how God or someone else who has shown you over abounding grace! And let everyone remember you as a woman of grace.