The Antidote to Pandemic Awkwardness: Extending Grace

extending grace

Today’s big idea is that a strategy that is going to help us all out–big time–right now, is extending grace to our fellow humans whenever and wherever possible. 

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I got this message loud and clear a few weeks ago

Right after my first foray going out to dinner inside an actual restaurant. As it was our first time out in a while, my husband, friends, and I were very excited to return to indoor dining, and have someone wait on us and not have to do the dishes. And to be able to relax and socialize like it was back in the before times. 

Except, of course, it’s NOT the before times and the experience was different than we anticipated. 

So we’re at our first indoor dining experience in a long, long time

We ordered a cheese plate as an appetizer and as the server was delivering it, they dropped the little container of pickles that comes with it. They seemed really frazzled and they said, oh gosh, so sorry, do you still want pickles?! And they had a look in their eye like, please don’t say yes. But we were psyched about those pickles and we did want them. We were out to dinner! We wanted all the bells and whistles. So we said yes, we’d love the pickles. And we were thinking, well of course we want the pickles.

Then our order took a long time to come, as did our check. And we ended up stacking our own plates and moving them out of the way because there wasn’t anyone around to clear them. To be clear, the food was great, we had fun, and the servers were doing their best. But it was…different from what you’d normally expect at a restaurant.

Later that night I was looking at Instagram, and saw that a different restaurant in town was closing because they were burned out

They didn’t have enough staff to keep things humming so they were taking a pause. And, sadly, it’s only then that it hit me, ohhhhh…. OF COURSE. Restaurants are different now, and we need to expect a different experience. We need to extend grace to the people who work in the industries that have been hardest hit by the pandemic. And, really, to everyone, because we have all been through a tough time. 

It’s important to remember that people’s best–including our own–may look nothing like what we would have expected in the before times. And that’s just got to be OK. We have to give each other a wide enough berth to be harried, or to overreact, or to be slow, or irritable. And to not make that behavior mean that anyone’s a bad person, or incompetent, or any other judgmental thing we could think. 

Daily Tiny Assignment

Your tiny assignment is to extend grace and remember to give people as much of a pass as you can when they act in ways that confuse, sadden, or anger you. You can think of it like you’ve got a pouch of pixie dust, and you can envision giving a punch of that sparkly dust to anyone who needs it. You don’t have to be stingy with that pixie dust, because the pouch automatically refills any time you dip into it. 

Person ahead of you in line at the store tells you in an angry tone to please back up because they’re not vaccinated? Give them a pass and just back up and be cool. Co-worker doesn’t send you that thing you need when you need it? Imagine blowing a palmful of pixie dust their way and trust that they’re doing their best. 

I don’t mean you have to tolerate outright aggression or a-hole-ish-ness

You have every right to maintain your boundaries. And if you’d like a refresher on that, head back to episodes 467 – 471. But in this moment when we’re all a little wobbly. A lot of our unpleasant interactions are going to be more about random collisions than outright aggression. More like bumper cars than demolition derby. 

It might take some mental effort to not bite the hook of irritation or anger. But we all need to be strong enough to be gentle with each other. Even if you manage to extend grace to someone one time, you will be making a huge, huge difference in their life and in yours. Every act of kindness matters, especially when so many of us are a little wonky. 

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