I was in the mood for a milkshake, so we drove to the local Arby’s. The parking lot was empty and we didn’t notice any lights on which was odd for a Sunday evening. Nevertheless, we drove to the drive-up window to place our order. That’s when we saw the sign. It was a small sign that said:
“Because of staffing shortages, we will not open until 11 am and we will be closed on Sundays.”
Since this was a Sunday evening, the sign explained why there weren’t any cars in the parking lot. The sign also explained why the dining room had been closed for almost two years.
A Different World
Before COVID-19, I would eat at the Arby’s quite frequently. Near the end of 2019, they remodeled their dining room. It had beautiful aesthetics and a meeting room for the community. We had a few of our church CORE Group meetings there and appreciated the space.
Then, COVID hit. I don’t know their particular story, but I assume they lost staff like everywhere else. They have yet to recover. Of course, they are asking people to fill out applications and have a perpetual “help wanted” sign.
We are getting used to the signs. “Help wanted” or “Now Hiring” signs proliferate store windows. Even in Scotland, most shops and restaurants had “Staff Required” signs, reminding me that worker shortages aren’t simply an American thing. We are in this together.
Businesses have had to adapt, like the Arby’s, to limited hours or services. I’ve noticed that some businesses aren’t as clean as they used to be. I could assume employees don’t care that the place is dirty or the trash is overflowing. That could always be the case, but it could also be that there are fewer employees working, so some things don’t get done. The businesses don’t have the same amount of staff to do what they used to.
The pandemic really changed life for everyone. Things are different and harder. If a pandemic wasn’t enough, now a war rages, causing all sorts of prices to increase. What we have now has to go further than it used to.
Life has always been hard but it seems to be getting harder by the day because it is. Let’s just admit it.
Survival of the Flexible
The phrase I keep hearing is “adaptability and flexibility.” I see articles stating that “those who are able to adapt will survive.” What is so important about adaptability and flexibility?
When we have no idea what’s coming next, being able to shift and adapt because we are flexible becomes an essential skill. When employees quit or are out sick, businesses must adapt. When our plans get changed, vacations get canceled, and store shelves are empty, we are forced to adapt and do without items we enjoy or need.
Flexibility, adaptability, and the willingness to shift may help us find hope and happiness, but there’s one attitude that is needed even more than these. This attitude will actually bring hope and joy! What is it?
Grace for others trying to be flexible and adapt. Grace for businesses dealing with situations they’ve not had to address before. Grace for overworked and overwhelmed employees. Grace for those doing the best they can with what they have and wondering if they will be able to make it through another day with little hope for the future. Grace is needed today more than ever because life IS hard.
Life of Grace
Grace recognizes that we only see what’s on the surface. We can’t fully see what other struggles people have. We don’t see the disappointments and frustrations they face.
It can be easy to let myself “off the hook” when I mess up because I know my good intentions. I know about good intentions! I intend to empty the dishwasher, but sometimes I don’t. When I don’t, I let myself off the hook because, I was tired, busy, or (my favorite reason) I simply forgot.
We don’t see others’ intentions. We only see their execution and action…and we judge them based on what we see, which is only part of their story. They may have intended on cleaning the lobby, but then they had a rush of people and too few employees. Perhaps they forgot, or more probable, they are overwhelmed by it all.
According to Shirzad Chamine, the author of Positive Intelligence, we judge others, ourselves, and our situation. When I stopped to notice how much I judge others, and my situation, I realized I also judge myself even though I didn’t think that I did. It seems like an oxymoron. I can let myself off the hook because I know my good intentions while judging myself for bad execution AT THE SAME TIME! I know I have good intentions, but when my actions don’t match my intentions, I can be pretty hard on myself.
Grace is needed for us! If we are not able to give ourselves grace, we will struggle with giving grace to others. Actually, if we don’t show ourselves grace, we may be unable to show others grace at all.
When we take a step back, stop judging ourselves, and show ourselves grace and compassion, something amazing happens; We learn how to extend grace to others.
The times call for more than just flexibility and adaptability, they also call for grace and compassion. Grace and compassion bring joy. When we are able to offer ourselves and others grace and compassion, our entire lives are changed.
Jesus offers us THE example of someone who allowed grace and compassion to drive his life. He is our example and also the source of our grace. We are able to show grace because Jesus has shown us grace.
I’m going to ask you to do something. Next time you start to judge someone, yourself, or your situation, take a moment to “step back” and say, “I’m going to offer grace,” and then do it. It will change your life.