Grace and Dignity in Difficult Times

Sometime back, a situation arose at work where someone was behaving pretty disrespectfully.  When I called attention to this, I was told, "she is going through some things at home" and that I needed to give her a break.

I took exception to this.  There are some things I would gladly overlook or have compassion for when there are issues.  Sometimes when people have a lot on their mind they forget things, they overlook things, they make mistakes.  But to behave with blatant disrespect didn't seem acceptable, regardless of what was going on behind the scenes.

Recently, a friend and coworker of mine went through a truly heartbreaking time - for the second time.  I won't go into the details of her situation, but with her permission I will allude to it.  This woman has been dealt a very tough hand, and yet all I see in her is grace and dignity. 

I had sort of a revelation about this in a meeting a few weeks ago.  I had just heard the news about the difficult time she was facing the day before.  I was running late to a meeting and came trotting into the room and was surprised to see her seated there, and she smiled at me when she saw me come in.  Throughout the meeting, she was engaged.  She answered questions, she was friendly in her interactions.  Did she appear a little tired?  Yes. Her sparkle was missing, but her character was not.  She was gracious and kind, as she always is.

In the days and weeks that followed, I was further impressed by her grace in the choices she made.  There were tears that I did not see, and I found my mind on her a lot, wondering how she was doing.  But every interaction I had with her, she was sweet, respectful, and engaged.

We all cope with trials differently.  I understand that.  But if in her sorrows she could treat others with basic courtesy and respect, it drew a drastic comparison with others who will not.  We cannot choose our hardships, and we cannot choose how we are wired to think or feel and process situations.  But we do get to choose our attitudes and behaviors.  And it makes it all the more unacceptable to me when others, in their difficult times, mistreat those around them.

This friend of mine is strong.  Not because she isn't hurt by the difficulties of life, but because while in them she makes the choice to treat others well.  As both a leader and as a woman, I am inspired by this. 

My friend has faced difficulties that I wouldn't wish on anyone, and she is facing it for the second time.  When others would become resentful, bitter or bleak, she is kind, hopeful and full of grace.  It is in these difficult moments that our true characters are on display, and hers is beautiful.