How far does grace extend? Is it an inch long, an action that lasts a moment, or does it extend from sea to shining sea, fully and for all time?
I don’t think there’s a black and white answer to that; it depends on how much you choose to give. The problem with me is that when I give grace (love and forgiveness and kindness to one who hasn’t earned it), I give an inch, but expect the receiver to feel like she’s gained a thousand miles.
This concept plays a role in a key scene of season two of OreGairu. An uncomfortable atmosphere fills the service club throughout the season, prompted by conflicts between the three protagonists, Hachiman (Hikki), Yukino, and Yui. There eventually comes a point where Hikki goes against his character and breaks down in front of the other two, explaining, in short, that he values them so much so that he wants to create something genuine with them.
So, all hugs and tears of joy, right? Nope, not quite. Instead, we get a confused Yukino running from the room, and a dejected Hikki almost giving up.
I know exactly how Hikki feels. I’m prone to great declarations of forgiveness, love, and giving. And those closest to me, those on the receiving end of my grand words, don’t always respond with an “I love you, too!” In fact, the response is often like Yukino’s. There is no kindness in return; in fact, there’s sometimes quite the opposite.
When that happens, and I feel like Hikki must have. I quit. I stop pursuing. Instead of giving more grace, I decide, well that’s over and done with, and I proceed another route. Sometimes, upset at the response, I demonstrate the opposite of grace and start blaming. At my worst, I’ll even throw out a “why can’t you show grace.” Yikes.
Hikki has that moment, too, when he could have quit. Yui encourages him to keep going, to keep pursuing, but he ultimately has to make that decision himself. And once he does, he turns it on full again, running after Yukino and continuing to show love toward her, no matter how uncomfortable it makes him feel. His flow of grace, having slowed from a gush to a trickle, is activated again. And this time, Yukino responds in kind.
Grace is a powerful weapon. It can bring down regimes, change the foulest of hearts, and turn hatred into love. But I sometimes use it sparingly, as if I might hurt someone if I used it too much. But too much grace is a hard line to reach. The more I give, usually, the more the receiver comprehends it’s value, and the more likely he or she is to experience the weight of its love. And even if that doesn’t happen, I’m changed by giving a love to someone that breaks my sense of justice, my ideas about judgment. I hope that I’ll use this weapon more often and without abandon, because in doing so I have so much to gain – and so much to lose.