1. A disposition to be generous or helpful; goodwill.
2. Mercy; clemency.
3. Divine love and protection bestowed freely on people.

Growing up, I was surrounded by relationships based on conditions, you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours. Having relationships that consisted of unconditional love and grace was something I didn’t really know how to navigate because it wasn’t modeled for me. If there were three things I have learned from being a high-school SGL for four years to 25 girls, it would be grace, selflessness, and empathy. (Just what I needed more of.)

Grace when my co-leader bails on me for the fourth Sunday in a row. Grace when I bail on my co-leader four Sundays in a row. Grace when one of my girls forgets we are meeting and I live 45 minutes from our meeting place. Grace when our girls want to stay up until 5 AM on a retreat after I have had a 50+ hour work week. Grace when they continually do the opposite of our advice.

I am sure you can relate to the panic-stricken calls at 2 AM because their parents took their iPod, computer, or Facebook away and all you want to do is say, “THIS WAS AN EMERGENCY?!?!” I have learned that even though these types of crises may seem so little in comparison to what is currently going on in the world, I will be that ear for the tears. You see, I want my students to feel like they can come to me for anything. Whether it is an “unfair” discipline, a boyfriend that is becoming verbally abusive, or dealing with self-image and the pressures that society puts on them. I want a constant conversation with my girls because through that, our relationship and trust strengthens and they will learn what grace is. They will know that through the seasons of life that we experience, a loyal ear is important to have in your life and it’s important to be that for someone else as well.

The crazy thing is, I’ve realized that while I think I am this “grace-giving warrior”, my students have also been the ones to show me so much grace. They’ve given me grace when I was trying to balance being a new leader with my personal life or when I have promised to come to one of their games but their season ends and I never made it or when I make a big deal out of someone’s birthday and forget two other girls had a birthday the week before.

Over the years, I have realized that while I am ultimately the leader, having a teachable spirit is SO important. I can’t tell you how much I’ve learned from my girls. I never knew God was going to use my commitment as a way to teach me something. I thought I was going to lead but in return He lead me in the areas of my life that needed help. Learning more about grace and selflessness has made me a better person and even though grace wasn’t modeled as much for me, I hope my girls will see it modeled for them in our group.

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