Winged Life Spiritual Direction and Retreats

Clarity. Purpose. Peace.

Winged Life Spiritual
Direction and Retreats

Clarity. Purpose. Peace.

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Cheryl Lyon, CPC

Spiritual Director, Retreat Leader and Life Coach

Grace Under Pressure

In a recent conversation on the Insights at the Edge podcast on The Power of Holy Language, Tami Simon asked Caroline Myss to define “grace.”  Tami said that to a lot of people, grace is a “mystical substance” and they don’t understand what is meant by it because they don’t have a personal experience where they can say “Oh, that’s what it feels like.  I know that mystical substance.”

Up to that point, Caroline had been referencing some of her own more mystical experiences of grace.  But in response to Tami’s question, she gave two very concrete examples of grace that most people will recognize, at least in retrospect.  The first example is situations in which, looking backward, we see that we acted completely out of character for us – and that resulted in blessing or transformation.  For example, a situation in which you usually would have lost your temper, but in this case chose not to say anything, and that resulted in blessing. 

The second example Carolyn gave is the opposite: when we have regrets.  Because, in Caroline’s opinion, if we feel regret, we heard God’s voice, but ignored it.  Caroline says:  “Because if you really think deeply, and slow yourself down, you’ll realize that before a regret you heard guidance, ‘Do this, don’t do this, whatever it is,’ and you consciously chose not to follow. You consciously argued with yourself.”  And grace is what is showing us that and teaching us what guidance looks or sounds like and how it comes to us. 

Caroline went on to say, “Grace is not magic. And Heaven will not do the work for you. Let us be very clear that Heaven never does what you can do yourself…. Heaven does what you cannot do and steps in after you’ve exhausted your own resources…. So when someone says, ‘Give me some Grace because I don’t want to do this,’ the answer is no, no, no, no, no.  You’ll get to Grace…. Heaven doesn’t make life easy on you because you are frightened or because you don’t want to do something. Heaven directs you to do what you need to do because you’re frightened…”

Caroline continued: “So you start with your prayers by looking at yourself and recognizing what you need, what you need to get through your life. And you say, ‘Help me with that, help me with that. I need to make some tough choices here…  That’s how you pray. [Don’t] look at the outside world and say, ‘Clean up my crap for me.’ That’s your job….What you have to say is, ‘Help me. I need to make some tough choices here…. So talk to me. Which one do I have to make?’ And it’s usually the toughest. ‘So I need some courage here because I don’t believe in myself. So help me. Help me. My legs are shaking, my heart’s beating, and I have to do this. So, God almighty, give me some courage.’


What do you think about this definition of one aspect of Grace, and prayer?  Does it resonate?  Does it give you any ideas for how to pray when you are under pressure? 


To be honest, I’ve never been a big fan of Caroline Myss, though I know many are.  Her language doesn’t quite resonate with me most of the time.  But in this portion of the interview, I think she hit the nail on the head.  In Christian language:  We are incarnate human beings; We are the hands and feet of Christ.  WE are God working in the world, or at least we can be.  No one ever said it would be easy.  But worthwhile?  Oh yes.

If you’d like to listen to the full conversation between Tami Simon and Caroline Myss, here’s the link:

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Cheryl Lyon, CPC

I’m a spiritual director and retreat leader with a life coaching background. I offer spiritual companioning and retreats for people who want to go deeper – deeper into themselves, deeper into their connection with the Divine, and deeper into that place of peace, equanimity, and connection they sometimes feel in meditation, prayer, nature or the arts.

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