Fifty Shades of Grace

AUTHOR: | POSTED: December 6, 2012 | COMMENTS: 6 Comments

Carolyn Savage

 What is grace?

It’s a word that has many different meanings to many different people, depending on their religious upbringing.  I was taught there are actually two kinds of grace.  Habitual Grace and Actual Grace. 


Well, this is how I make sense of it. 

Actual Grace doesn’t mean “real” as opposed to “unreal”, it means “an act of Grace”, like God nudging your heart to accept Him.   Habitual Grace doesn’t mean something we do without thinking, it means a persistant state of Grace.  So we have Graces which are movements by God on us (actual), and we have Grace which is the indwelling of God’s own Holiness and Divine Nature in our souls (habitual). Actual Grace isn’t “in us”, but is “done to us”, and it can occur at any time. In order to be with God we need both kinds of Grace; we need God to move us with His action, and we need His Divinity to dwell in us.

So, why am I writing about this?

Well, Monday I wrote about the reasons Sean and I continue to share our family’s story.  For us, it’s a calling to inspire others, when faced with an unwelcome circumstance, to fight through it; to dig deeper into their souls than they ever thought was possible; in order to come out on the other side in a stronger more compassionate place.  A place of grace…and gratitude.  It hasn’t been easy.  In fact, it’s been quite messy, but we made it.  We are here.  Thank God.

This morning, while waiting to watch a cyber friend make her Today Show debut, I had the pleasure of witnessing an interview with Madonna Badger.  Madonna lost her three beautiful daughters and parents in a tragic fire on Christmas day, 2011.  I remember, when learning of her loss, feeling a little bit ill.  I couldn’t imagine her grief so I prayed for her.  In June 2012, I saw Matt Lauer check in with Madonna on the Today Show and I remember thinking that she had to be one of the most wounded women walking the Earth, yet she is still walking…somehow.  I prayed for her.  Fast forward to this morning when, much to my delight, Madonna checked in with Matt, again.  This interview was different.  Madonna still clearly is sad, but she smiled.  She spoke of how her daughters’ spirits have come to her and given her peace.  It was truly a goose bump moment. 

I don’t know about your experiences, but I can absolutely tell you that I have had similar moments where I felt a spirit with me, reassuring me that I was going to make it.  I wrote in Inconceivable about an encounter with God  I had only hours before I found out I was pregnant with “L”.  While it was happening, I didn’t understand it.  After the “news” came, it started to make sense, but was quickly muddied by anger and other ugly feelings about my misfortune.  I think it’s taken me almost four years to cut through the ugliness to stand in this place.

I am so grateful I am here.

December 2012

It’s a place of compassion and careful contemplation.  A place where I am more capable of empathizing with other’s plights, and slower with my judgements of other’s actions.  I laugh here.  I love here.  I am overwhelmed with gratitude here.  I wake up every morning remembering where I’ve been, but focusing on where I want to go.  I can feel God’s spirit nudging me to accept Him, and to allow his Grace to work through me.  In a way, it’s like surrendering, and learning that only through surrendering did I get to this place of grace.

While watching Madonna Badger this morning, I realized I was witnessing something special.  Her smile; her compassion; her faith;  Her Grace.


and thought provoking.

What is it about people that allows them to trudge through the most horrendous of circumstances and find their place of grace? 

I truly believe that Madonna Badger, like so many other women who have been to hell and back, are heaven sent.  Their job?  To remind each of us that in spite of how difficult our journeys are, we can survive.  We all may have different challenges:  broken marriages; challenging children; illness; loss; or life circumstances that push us to our knees; but with determination and endurance we can persevere through the worst and, ultimately, stand in a place of grace.To get there we have to allow ourselves to be inspired.  For me, it was through faith.  It appears that for Madonna, it’s through the spirits of her children.  For you, it may look different.  The commonality is that we, when in a bad place, have to allow ourselves to be inspired by whatever spirit is pushing us to walk on.

I realize now that grace can look so different but, yet, be so similar.  It’s obtained through babysteps and hard work and endurance that flows from a reservoir of strength that most of didn’t know existed.  Grace has many shades, but shines brightest when we fight for it. 

Tonight our family will be featured on a show that I’m uneasy about.  I admit, I will probably think about it more than I care to throughout today, but I’m not going to allow it to distract me from where I stand and what I love about our life.

I don’t think I could do that without God’s grace. 


What people in your life have inspired you with their grace?  I’d love to hear about them in a comment!  (We can never have too much inspiration!)

6 Comments on “ Fifty Shades of Grace ”

  • Robbin | December 6th, 2012 9:57 pm

    Carolyn, you inspire me. I totally agree with your view on grace. I’ve been blessed to recognize God’s grace many times. One time in particular I didn’t think I was “forgivable”, and really on the outs with my parents. I didn’t think my dad would ever be able to accept me again. To my delight my dad told me God had spokken to him; told him that he should forgive me and accept me as I am with the decisions I had made. From that moment on my dad and I were closer and I truly knew God’s grace.

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  • Teri Lee (Facebook Comment) | December 7th, 2012 8:01 am

    Carolyn ~ You are a blessing to us all. A heartfelt gratitude to you for helping me to fight for a place of grace today. YOU make a difference! YOU are loved! <3

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  • Beth Noe June (Facebook Comment) | December 7th, 2012 8:02 am

    There are many ‘sayings’ regarding the challenges that life brings to each of us: “God doesn’t give us more than we can handle,” “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger” and “Grace under fire” among others. Our family has had its share of events/challenges in the past 8 years — and rather than folding and giving up, each and every one of us (including my brother) has taken a deep deep breath and carried on. We are closer than ever and we appreciate each other AND the blessings we have been given. And we are also much more sensitive and empathetic of others. We find strength within. GRACE……looks different to each of us. You and Sean have certainly modeled it in so many ways. God bless…..and what a beautiful family you have

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  • Carolyn Savage | December 7th, 2012 8:04 am

    Beth, I can’t tell you how many times you and your family has been in my prayers. The unfairness of what happened will baffle me until the end of time. Thank you for your continued readership and sharing your “been there, done that” wisdom! XOXO

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  • Lori Lavender Luz | December 7th, 2012 2:28 pm

    Beautiful post, Carolyn. I’m a big fan of grace, in all her forms.

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  • Kathy | December 10th, 2012 9:50 pm

    Awesome post C! Thank you for sharing. There are so many people, especially women and others in the Adoption, Loss and Infertility Community, who move and inspire me and you my friend, are one of them. Thank you for that, for being you and for continuing to share your journey with us here.

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