A few months into pandemic lockdowns, a friend and I were talking about how hard life was in that moment. We concluded that our “best” (whatever that means) kinda sucks right now. Our sucky best is not a result of a lack of hard work, knowledge, skills, or discipline. Our schedules are disrupted; kids and spouses confined home together for work, school and every other activity; tasks for our work and personal lives are constantly being changed; and we are constantly doing seemingly easy tasks as if for the first time.
Here’s my personal “suckiest” moment of this season — At the time of the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis at the hands of police, I was working in an interim capacity for the United Church of Christ Conference (a regional, denominational body) that served churches in Arkansas, Missouri, and Tennessee. My colleague wanted to offer a week of Zoom worship services for local clergy each evening for a week. Because I felt I wanted to contribute to this valuable project and wanted to give my colleague a break, I offered to lead one of the worship services. I planned the service a couple of days ahead. We even confirmed that I was going to do it earlier in the day. That evening, I totally forgot that I was going to lead it and should have signed onto the Zoom link that night. I didn’t realize the mistake until more than an hour after the advertised start time — far too late to start. I simply emailed my colleague and asked for a lot of grace. I am so grateful that she extended it to me.
In the “before times,” I never forgot the major things I need to lead. But this time, I did. I felt terrible about having forgotten this important event. But I also knew that these weren’t normal times. I had to work much harder at giving myself grace than my colleague did in giving it to me. All our nervous systems, mine included, are taxed in such strange ways in these times. They are not running optimally. So I forgot something that I normally would not have forgotten to do. In the weeks following this incident, I noticed that I was more often forgetting meetings until getting the reminder of the event on my phone or computer 30 minutes before it was scheduled to start. (Obviously, I had to double down on adding reminders to every event in my calendar.)
Because of the humbling nature of these personal failures and the lavishness of the grace I have received from others when I failed, I even more readily extended grace to others who found themselves in similar situations. As a Christian and as a yogi, I believe that grace comes from an infinite source. There is no danger of running out of grace; we only need to tap into it and offer it to ourselves and others.
I am making a business out of helping people mindfully manage change, so, friends, I’m telling you that this is what the messiness of change looks like — making huge mistakes and then giving and receiving grace while you learn from these mistakes, make adjustments, and then make more mistakes and make more adjustments. Each time, with the help of grace, you’ll get better and better at what you want to do. Just keep at it, all the while tapping into and giving lavishly that grace to yourself and others.
Take it a step further: Giving and receiving grace will be a key part of my upcoming coaching group series, Tackling Tough Conversations, starting Jan. 26. Space is limited to only seven participants in this group that will help you set boundaries, advocate for yourself and others, facilitate change, and work toward justice in your workplace. Get one of the remaining spots by registering by Jan. 25.