Good morning friends. Sometimes you need to take a step back from a project to reevaluate and assess your goals. That’s what I’ve been doing. I can’t say I have it all figured out, but I have been inspired to share the origin of the name of this Blog/Company. I’ve been using the name Reclaiming Her Grace for my website, blog, and coaching/teaching business now for a year, but I’ve never explained the meaning behind it. You may have guessed at it, or figured it out by the subject matter we talk about, but I want to spend this time by going into why I chose this name and what it means to me.
“elegance or beauty of form, manner, motion, or action: a pleasing or attractive quality or endowment”
Too often, in our modern world, we decide that it’s ok to let go of another social grace. Pleasant qualities, elegance, and manners are dated as old fashioned. Humanity is more self-focused, conflicted, divided, and unpleasant than ever. What happened? When did we decided that elegance was unattractive? Why did we decide manners were outdated? We’ve slipped in to a fast paced, disconnected society, with the idea that to get ahead we have to push and shove everyone else out of the way. We desperately need to reclaim the grace that has long left our culture. This idea that we can live how we want, say what we want, and act how we want is terribly wrong. We have freedom yes, but we also have responsibility. We are responsible for the impression we leave on others. We are responsible for how we treat others. We are responsible for those whom we have an influence over. I’d like to look deeper into different areas of our lives that need to be reclaimed by gracious living. These areas fall into five main categories:
We need to Reclaim the Beauty of Elegance
We need to Reclaim the Beauty of Form
We need to Reclaim the Beauty of Etiquette
We need to reclaim the Beauty of our Actions
We need to Reclaim the Beauty of Attractive Qualities
Over the next few weeks, we’ll look at these 5 areas closely and do an inward evaluation of our own lives and how they reflect a gracious lifestyle.
We need to Reclaim Elegance
1.) We need to Reclaim Elegant Living
When was the last time you really enjoyed watching a good educational documentary, or listening to Classical music, or reading a good non-fiction book? We’ve become too easily entertained by the junk of this world. Most would rather pick up People Magazine than a good home improvement journal. Most would rather listen to noisy pop music than enjoy the beauty of a Beethoven number. If we are to start reclaiming areas of our lives for elegance, why not start with our tastes in entertainment and daily living? Here are some practical ways we can introduce elegance back into our lives:
-Instead of always going to a movie, try attending the local Symphony one evening.
-Instead of ordering that diet Coke, order water with lemon (Or sparkling water to feel extra elegant)
-Instead of reading the latest romance novel, pick up a copy of “French Women Don’t Get Fat” or “Rhythms of Renewal” and read about how to live a life you love and take care of your body at the same time.
-Instead of reading People magazine, pick up Southern Lady or the Magnolia Journal.
-Instead of playing pop music, what about listening to some Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, or Michael Bublé? Listen to some smooth instrumental Jazz or Classical piano for relax time. (This is especially nice with a bubble bath and candles.)
-Instead of going to the club, visit a nearby Art Museum or Museum of History.
-Instead of sending a text, sit down and write out a card by hand.
-Instead of going to the airport/grocery store/doctor office in sweats, put on a real outfit and pull yourself together.
-Instead of choosing a video game every time, pull out a good old fashioned board game with real pieces.
This is just a small list of ideas to help add some elegance back into our everyday living, but you’ll find when you start making more elegant choices you feel more elegant. When you feel more elegant, you act it out. When you act it out, that’s gracious living.
2.) We need to Reclaim Elegant Habits
If you had to list the #1 bad habit of American culture what would you say? I asked this question over on my Instagram account and the responses I got included foul language, ungratefulness, excessive phone use, and tardiness. These are just the top common answers I received.
If we are to gracefully refine our habits we must recognize what our bad habits are and understand why they need to be refined. Bad habits can be devastating to the impression we leave for others. They can turn people away from listening to what we have to say. I mentioned before, but we are responsible for the people we have influence over. Elegant habits to reclaim include:
-Saying “please” and “thank you”
-Keeping your phone away from the table
-Sitting up straight
-Keeping your hands out of your mouth
-Avoiding foul language
-Listening with intent
This small list certainly isn’t exhaustive, but it can be a great start. For additional reading check out “Modern Manners” by Dorothea Johnson and Liv Tyler or “A Kid’s Guide to Manners” by Katherine Flannery, written for children and their families!
3.) We need to Reclaim Elegant Words.
In Ephesians 4:29 (NIV), we’re told “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen”. Again in Colossians 4:6 (ESV) we’re told “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person”. There are well over 100 verses in Scripture that specifically address the way we talk. We should pay special close attention to something God tells us over 100 times! Our speech can do so much good, and so much damage. We must choose our words carefully, and choose them with kindness and respect. Remember, once something is spoken it can never be unspoken. Make a habit of thinking before you speak. Pray this prayer from Psalms 141:3 (ESV) Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!”
To avoid saying something you will later regret, or that would undermine your influence, remember these key questions before you open your mouth to speak:
-Am I speaking from anger or bitterness? If yes, then go take a walk before you respond.
-Would I feel comfortable say this word in front of my sweet, 95 year old, innocent, Southern Baptist, great-grandmother. If no, don’t use it in other conversation.
-Is what I’m about to say helpful or hurtful?
-Is it necessary that I share my opinion, or was I asked for my opinion?
-Is there a more gracious way to say what I need to say?
Elegance is a lost art. One that desperately needs to be reclaimed. As we go about our lives and daily tasks, lets ask ourselves if we’re portraying gracious elegance in our choices, in our habits, and with our words. If not, we have some work to do.
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