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August 14, 2014

A Gift That Gives Both Ways

Confession time: I’m impatient—painfully, embarrassingly, shamefully impatient. Last week was the perfect example of this. I was on a business trip and stopped by the hotel restaurant to grab a meal before I had to go to my speaking engagement....

Confession time: I’m impatient—painfully, embarrassingly, shamefully impatient.

Last week was the perfect example of this. I was on a business trip and stopped by the hotel restaurant to grab a meal before I had to go to my speaking engagement. There were only four people in the entire restaurant, with maybe seven staff members walking around.

I sat down in a hurry to get my order so that I could go to my event, but what happened next would have put anyone over the edge.

The service was terrible. The server got my very normal order wrong—twice—and then argued with me about it. He looked dumbfounded when I asked him a basic question, and he never even brought my drink! To tops things off, he forgot about me entirely for about 20 minutes until I flagged someone down to get my check. From start to finish, this guy got every part of serving wrong.

I could feel the self-righteousness boiling up inside of me as angry thoughts began running through my head:

This is inexcusable. There are four people in the whole place—it’s not even busy!

Who let this guy on the floor? He clearly has zero training.

He never even apologized for never bringing me a drink or the check!

In that moment of frustration, I decided to do something different and practice what I’ve been learning lately. There’s an incredible gift that you can give someone that happens to give back to you as well: the benefit of the doubt.

That changed my thoughts entirely:

Maybe it’s his first day.

I bet his manager was in a pinch and just put him on the floor with no training.

Maybe he’s never served before.

As I began to mentally extend grace to my server, I felt my shoulders relax. I felt the entire situation dissolve. And I felt a peace come over me as I chose forgiveness and kindness over anger and impatience.

After I changed my way of thinking, I decided to give some feedback to the manager. Believe me, it sounded quite different from what I would have said in my previous state of mind.

“I just want to let you know that my server seemed kind of confused. I’m not sure if maybe he’s new, but he may need a little extra help and I just wanted to let you know.”

“Oh, thank you for telling me,” she said. “It’s his second day and he’s never served before.”

How about that? He was new!

So the next time someone cuts you off in traffic, sends you a blunt email, or forgets to do something they said they would do, assume it was an accident—they may just be having an off day.

When you give someone the benefit of the doubt, you not only extend grace to a person that likely needs it in that moment, but you also find yourself getting swept away in the very grace you’re offering.

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Leave a Comment

  1. Dottie says:

    Thank you for grace, the reminder how anyone can be “off” even it was for just a moment. One never knows what the other is going through, been through. . . Thankful that His peace and grace are available. Thanks for sharing your heart.

  2. Jacob says:

    Thank you for sharing this story! So many times we think that a particular situations is the results of all the negative thoughts that come to mind. However the reality of the situation (in most cases) is very different. It’s a great reminder to STOP, take a breath and extend the most powerful gift of grace and mercy. By doing so you can become the person that brightens somebodies rough or terrible day 😉

  3. Nicki says:

    It’s so true how choosing to forgive someone or show them kindness when you don’t remotely feel like it is very difficult, but SO transformational in your own spirit. When I choose to forgive despite my anger, I find that THAT is the very thing that makes my anger vanish. Thanks for sharing this great story. It made me smile. 😀