Giving Back with Grace

The idea of "giving back" to others often connotes service toward them. In fact, we might say that serving others is one of the primary ways that you and I can show appreciation for what we have been given. We might help someone with a project, contribute finances, or we could buy a meal for the person behind us.

All of these are worthy ventures, but I believe there are many subtle, almost unseen, ways to give back to others to serve them in a more bedrock fashion. Meaning, I could give back to my neighbor by watering their flowers – odds are my neighbor would appreciate my effort. But I could also give back to my neighbor by remaining charitable towards them in the face of an offense.

An offense can be nasty business. Human beings often have a low threshold in this area. A tone of voice, a certain glance, a delayed response, a forgotten invite or thank you are all ripe fodder for being offended. And you and I taking an intentional stance not to be hurt is a fantastic way to give back to others. It is a powerful gift, one that keeps on giving.

Why is it a gift? 

So many answers come to mind, but let’s hit the top three.

One, when I am difficult to offend my friends and family know that they don't have to tiptoe around me. They don't have to constantly check in with me to see if I am mad at them. They can move on to bigger and more important things in their lives than me and my stepped-on feelings! I am no longer a repeated to-do for them to manage. What a beautiful thing, to give back to those around us the freedom to not stress about us.

Two, when I have my offense meter dropped down to zero, I am easier to be around. I am not showing signs of pent-up anger. I am neither pouting nor volatile. I am creating an environment that allows others to relax with me; there is an air of peace rather than tension.

Lastly, when I give others permission to say things that I receive with an open mind, I am allowing honesty, authenticity, and safety to grow between us. When we repeatedly give this grace away to others the relationship continues and can grow deep roots. Trust is built. The makings of a potential life-long friend are in your midst.

There are tons of practical ways to give back a non-offended reaction in our current technological age. Let's look at a couple that most of us have experienced.

You can give back by not getting offended when some of your friends or family members don't return texts. We could make this fun. We could make this fun by coming up with outlandish, over-the-top reasons that they’re not responding, when it’s more likely they were caring for their kids, taking a much-needed break, or tackling their never-ending errand list. (It's not all about you, all the time, after all). 

We have to give grace to people in the text world. Consider that your text is one of many. Not everyone looks at their phone all day, and there are people in our lives that read texts, but responses in the moment are not necessarily their gig. This is a great place to test your offense threshold. Let’s choose to give back grace rather than attitude or judgment toward our texting friends and family.

How about reactions on social media? This is another excellent place to give back grace to others. Are there folks that you always “like,” but they don’t “like” your posts back? 

Let’s look at that for a moment because if we allow an offense to build up for us in this area, life is going to be more difficult than necessary. A social media reaction is meant to be a casual response. I do not believe that it was ever intended to measure a relationship, so let’s not allow it to. Let’s keep perspective and put social media back in its appropriate place, far from our identity.

In this season of Thanksgiving, let's absolutely give generously of our time, our resources, and our authentic communication. But, let's ALSO consider giving grace to others through our refusal to be easily offended.

We are all human. I know that there are legitimate reasons to be offended, and times when a healthy discussion is needed, but where we can, let’s trim our percentage of offenses back and watch those around us relax, share, linger, and laugh a whole lot more.

about the author...Cece Traywick’s voice is one of encouragement. She is a speaker and teacher in various venues, wife to Joey Traywick, and proud mom to their three kids. She has yet to meet a stranger.

featured photo by Savannah Faith Photo

Originally printed in the pages of Simply Family Magazine’s November 2018 issue.

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