I have this phrase I sometimes say to myself: find grace. It’s a simple reminder to do the right thing in any given moment. Most of the time, I fail to find grace. When my daughter has a fit, instead of taking a deep breath and walking away, I stomp my foot and yell. Instead of quieting the ugly voice in my head, I let it shake me down. Instead of waiting patiently in line at Starbuck’s, I exhale loudly and tap my foot. But every once in a while, I do the right thing. Instead of blowing up, I take a deep breath. Instead of texting in line at the grocery store, I smile at the cashier and ask about her day. I have to admit, it feels great to act like a grown-up. So why is it so hard to find grace?
It’s easier to witness another person’s moment of grace than produce my own. In fact, I just saw one in a crowded Starbuck’s. A little boy spilled his drink on the young man at the next table. It was a tense moment. The little boy’s mother immediately offered the young man an apology and brought him napkins. She even offered to pay his cleaning bill. Instead of shaking it off, the young man looked frustrated and said it was the second time he’d been spilled on that day. I could see in his face that he was teetering on the edge of a meltdown. He was quiet for a few minutes, while the mother offered a second apology. Finally, he exhaled, cleaned up his pants, and told the mother and son not to worry about it. The moment of tension passed and was soon forgotten. But not by me. I was moved by that moment of grace. Our lives are fast-paced and stressful. We don’t often have time to stop and consider how our actions can change the course of another person’s day. When faced with something unpleasant, we can choose to do the right thing, even if it takes a little work, a little control, a little self-soothing. We can choose to do the right thing, even when it’s the hardest thing to do. It’s in the tough moments when finding grace matters most. The next time my daughter screams or a stranger cuts me in line at the deli counter, I’ll think of this Starbuck’s encounter. I hope it inspires me to find grace.