Imagine this scenario: You made plans a week ago to have lunch and go shopping with a friend today. You guys haven’t caught up in forever and you finally got something on your calendar that works for both of you. Then a few hours before you’re supposed to meet, you get a text that says,
“Can we do 12:30 instead of 12? Rough morning.”
You respond that it’s no problem and then you get another text that says,
“Sorry, I’ll try to get it together by then. It’s just been one of those days.”
This happened to me not long ago with a friend, and even though the text said that she was coming at 12:30, she seemed stressed, overwhelmed and honestly, reluctant.
Even though I worked my day around these plans with my friend, I still didn’t want to be one more thing that stressed her out, even if that did mean that we had to reschedule again.
So I decided to do for my friend what I would have wanted someone to do for me if I were in her shoes.
I offered grace before she needed it.
I texted back, “No problem at all—but if you’d rather do another day, I really don’t mind. I have plenty of things I could do today and we can just hang out when things aren’t so crazy! I’ve been there plenty of times so just let me know!”
And you know what? I have been there. We’ve all had days like that. Your baby is fussy, you spilled coffee on your shirt in the car, you forgot your purse at home, and you’re almost out of gas when you’re already running behind. While you really wanted to go through with something originally, right now it’s the last thing you want to do.
We all need grace plenty of times when things just don’t go the way you hope or plan, and you want nothing more than a free pass to get out of something that’s stressing you out.
And it turns out that my friend needed it.
She texted back, “Thank you so much. If that’s okay, let’s just reschedule. I can spend the day catching up and I really appreciate it!”
Next time someone seems to be struggling, don’t wait until they need grace to offer it. Offer it first. Maybe they will respond that they’re fine, but maybe not. Maybe the grace you offer will be just what they need.
When you offer grace before someone needs it, you give them permission they were too scared to ask for, you provide a safety net before they even fall, and you give them a free pass before they even admit that they need it.
So the next time someone seems like they’re stressed, reluctant to follow through with plans, or embarrassed at their mistake, don’t wait until they’re sorry to offer grace. Offer grace before they need it. After all, that’s what you’d want someone to do for you if you were in their shoes.