“But for the grace of God, there go I.”
This expression dates back to the 15th Century and continues to be used today.
I’ve heard it spoken, read it many times over the years and, admittedly, have even used it occasionally myself. I must say that, in all instances, it can leave me feeling uncomfortable, like it’s meant to relay a sense of grandiosity or pass judgement on others, by me, my fellow and sometimes even God.
I was pondering this expression again this evening and thought I’d use an example to explain what it means to me:
Let’s say someone lost their job and is relying on social services and the food bank to make ends meet. It can be easy to look at this person and pass judgement without knowing the details. We might even make comments such as, “Why don’t they get another job?” or, “Wonder what they did to get fired this time?” Where is the love and compassion for our fellow? On the other hand, I may say, “But for the grace of God, there go I.” Although some may interpret this to mean I think I am being given special favor by God because I was not “tagged” to be in this situation, this is not at all what I believe. Instead, I think it means we can never know all of the circumstances involved in a situation or the “bigger picture”. I believe “God’s grace” encompasses many factors including fortune, luck and innumerable reasons not obvious to us; “God’s grace” is about humility; it’s acknowledging that circumstances, good or bad, are often beyond our control or comprehension and there is no place for judgement. We are meant to love one another because really, “But for the grace of God, there go I.”
Love and blessings,
Women in Recovery Everywhere