A young man stood by the side of the road waiting for a bus. The rain was pouring down and he was doing his best to stay dry. He was dressed for success, a nice suit and tie, and carried an expensive laptop bag in the hand that was not holding the umbrella. A car came racing by and drove very close to the curb where the young man was standing. The splash from the car drenched him. No visible sign of anger, no words came from his mouth, he just did what he could to minimize the damage.
As an observer to this event, I was beyond curious. I approached him and offered the roll of paper towels that I had in my truck. The man smiled at me, accepted the paper towels, and began cleaning himself off. I shared with him that I admired his response to what happened, even sharing that I might not have been so forgiving. Again, he smiled, and he said, “Mister, I have done so many bad things and have wronged so many people, it is only right that I forgave them.” He continued, and said, “I have been given grace and forgiven so many times, I now know that I have to give grace and forgive others too.”
He was speaking my language.
I asked him where he was headed, and he shared that he was catching the bus to downtown Denver. I let him know that I was on my way to Denver and offered him a ride. He gratefully accepted and we began our journey. As we drove, I learned that he was going downtown to interview for a job. And he was laughing because now he was going to show up soaking wet.
As I asked him what kind of job he was looking for and the company that he was interviewing with, it turned out that I had many connections within the company and knew the woman who he was meeting for the interview. I didn’t tell him that. And as I dropped him off, I sent a text message to the woman, my friend, and let her know how he handled the day and his approach to giving and receiving grace. I advised her that even if his resume or experience didn’t qualify him as a great candidate, his character certainly would. He got the job.
Look, we all fall short, we all fail from time to time. There are things we wish we could have done better, there are words we wish we could take back, and there are certainly moments in time where our actions were inappropriate as we either overreacted or underreacted under times of stress. And when we think about our own misgivings and the errors of our ways, I am sure that we can also remember the people who gave us grace, and who demonstrated love and forgiveness, no matter how big or small our mistake may have been.
Perhaps, as we look upon our family, friends, community, and workplace, there are circumstances where we have a chance to offer such forgiveness and grace. Each time we receive grace from others should be seen as a deposit in our own bank account of love, forgiveness and grace. We just need to be reminded that we must make withdrawals from time to time and give that same grace to others.
There is enough division and conflict going on in our world today, we don’t need to add any more or pile on. Instead, we should look at the events, the statements, and the actions that were obviously a mistake or that could have been handled better, as an opportunity to love and forgive.
Unconditional love and forgiveness sound idealistic, yet we know when we live with and apply this philosophy that the outcome is decisively better. I would love to hear your story of grace at email@example.com. And when we can learn to give and receive grace, it really will be a better than good year.
Michael Norton is the grateful president of XINNIX, a personal and professional coach, and a consultant, trainer, encourager and motivator to businesses of all sizes.