Like Goodwill for All of Mankind
There’s one trait that I’ve consistently had to use as a leader of a movement, as a friend, wife and co-worker. It’s grace. Courteous goodwill.
In the past two years, I’ve gone back to school, served as a teaching fellow for a social impact program, volunteered on large projects, blogged, and worked on a book project. I’ve adjusted to life with a dog, switched jobs, focused on losing weight and even begun a vlog. I’ve been really busy, like busier than I can describe.
That means I also haven’t been a very present friend. I usually send birthday cards to a lot of folks. Guess what has happened to that? I haven’t returned calls, maybe a lot of calls. I forget to answer text messages. I’m usually focused on remembering to do homework or feed myself and my dog. I even have to set alarms to remind myself to leave the house to get to appointments.
As a wife, I’ve failed more than once and sometimes in the same day. I’ve washed clothes and forgot to put them in the dryer. I’ve not listened to a story or two. Sorry, dude! I have driven home and forgotten to call to see if there was food at home.
Grace as a Guiding Value
So where does grace come in?
This past week, I sent a message to a friend asking for help with something. I don’t like asking anyone for help, but I have learned to become more comfortable with this over the years. There was a legitimate need, and I trusted this person to be involved. I received a text message in return saying that they had asked for help and I hadn’t been there for them.
I was taken aback. What a passive-aggressive way to express unresolved feelings. Yet, we can’t judge because we have all done this before. Don’t lie to yourself, friend. And I won’t lie to myself: I’ve done it before.
I apologized and just reminded them that I had a lot on my plate and said it wasn’t intentional. My friend never responded.
This is where I think it’s a teachable moment around grace. How could I have behaved with more courteous goodwill despite being in one of the busiest times of my life so far? And how could my friend have acted with grace toward me?
- For me: I need to be more transparent when my plate is full. While I legitimately forgot to reply to at least two of this person’s texts over a span of two years on something that wasn’t urgent, she thought there was something more to the story. Had I been more open with what I was going through, she might have extended me grace and given me a chance. She might have immediately recognized that I was overwhelmed at the time.
- For the person on the other end: This person immediately went into attack mode. She assumed that I was being shady and didn’t want to help her. While I’ve never done that to her, it does tell me that someone else has. One thing my friend could have done differently (well maybe two things) is reminded herself that I’m not the person who has done that to her before. And she could’ve asked me a question like this, “I texted you twice and didn’t get a response. Is there anything that I can help you with or anything going on? How can I support you?” That probably would’ve resonated better on both sides and certainly starts a conversation from a place of trust and friendship rather than leaving a burning bridge in its wake.
- From home to work: These types of scenarios happen all the time at work. Yet we don’t always recognize them and instead jump the gun and believe that someone has darker intent or agenda. How do we find a way to use softer words? Or take enough time to think about what else could be underlying the person’s reaction?
How many times do we take into account that people grow and change? The person who wronged you at work in 2000 is very likely not the same person in 2019. And who knows, they may have forgotten the very thing you harbor a grudge about.
So go ahead and give yourself a big dose of grace. We don’t do this enough. For the past month, I have kept saying that I forgot to do something or I can’t find my phone. Actually, I can show myself some grace by saying, “I’m recovering from a concussion and can’t remember the details of our last conversation.”
The next time I chat with my friend you best believe I’ll tell her, “Girl, show (ME) some grace.”
Now if these online ads can show me some grace. Not tempting me to purchase a new handbag would be a tremendous act of courteous goodwill …ha!
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