A few weeks ago, my family and I went out to dinner together on a Friday night. The goal was to have a family meal, hang out, and possibly even enter into the Q realm. Quality Time.
Apparently every person in the greater Nashville are also had the same idea.
At the first restaurant we went to, we couldn’t even find a parking place. We circled a few times and then tried a second restaurant. When they told us the wait time was 45 minutes, I groaned and set the timer on my iPhone.
I’m a little OCD about numbers and sometimes watching the time helps keep me focused on something other than waiting in the lobby. I’d like to say that while waiting there I realized our goal of hanging out as a family was already being accomplished, that we didn’t need food to bond together as a family, we had each other! This was why we came out in the first place. The night was already a success as we talked and laughed about our week in a moment that would have made even Norman Rockwell jealous. I want to say that, but that would be a lie.
In moments like that, I tend to become a jerk. I don’t know if it’s because I’m competitive and want to “beat other people to dinner” or maybe it’s because I’m impatient. But I started to get really frustrated and tired of waiting and angry that I did not possess the super powers to force the little beeper we were holding to go off. Flash red already!
When it finally did go off, I walked up to the hostess and said, “I feel like I won the lottery. I’m so happy I want to give you a hug.” Her response?
“That would be great, I had a really tough day with my teenager.”
Slap in the face. Stomach punch. Throat chop. However you want to say it, she misinterpreted my passive aggressive/whiny statement as genuine thankfulness. And that was pretty convicting.
It made me realize that there are some moments in life where people aren’t getting any grace. There are some places where people aren’t being shown any kindness, ever. There are some times in the day where people aren’t getting any love. And although I might like to think I am graceful in those situations, I’m not.
But what if showing grace to someone was like anything else in life, you had to be deliberate? What if I could consciously pick ahead of time “Grace Spots” where no matter what, I was going to do my best to throw out wild amounts of grace? Would that change somebody’s day? Would that show someone Christ in a really unexpected way? Maybe, so here are three I identified:
1. At the airport.
Flight attendants, the TSA guards, the gate attendants, these folks are constantly surrounded by the most impatient, frustrated people on the planet. What if every time I flew, I went out of my way to treat the airport like a grace spot?
2. The Post Office
I’ve never had a fast experience at the post office. I’ve never walked out and thought, “that sure was easy.” But the one guy running the counter while 80 of us wait in line with packages didn’t demand, “I want to be understaffed today. I’d prefer to not have any help with me today.” That guy needs grace.
3. The DMV
You’re going to want to work your way up to this one. Don’t start with the DMV. Practice grace on a few Friday nights at restaurants first. Fly a few times and make a TSA guard laugh or smile before you practice grace at the Department of Motor Vehicles. This is PhD level grace and kindness, but they deserve it too. Lots of it.
There’s a chance that you are a fountain of grace and the idea about deliberately labeling and praying about grace spots is silly to you. You already show grace everywhere. The planet is your grace spot. I wish I could say the same thing about my life, but I can’t. I need to keep grace spots in mind and I’ve already seen it change things.
When I was in the ninth grade my mom made me write an apology note to the dentist. He swore he’d never see me again as a patient because I was such a jerk to him. So when we moved to Nashville, I determined I’d pick the dentist’s office as a grace spot. After a few visits of showering everyone in that office with grace, a new hygienist handled my appointment. She said, “I was so excited to finally meet you today. Everyone was talking this morning about how much they enjoy when you come in for a visit and I hadn’t met you yet.” Then a few days later she sent me the first hand written thank you note I’ve ever received from a dentist’s office.
Because the dentist’s office is one of my grace spots.
What would you say is one of the places you have a seemingly impossible time extending grace?
What grace spots could you pick?