Don’t Let Fear Guide. Lead with Grace.

It is no secret that emotions are high right now. From confusion to fear to hopelessness to resilience – most of us are feeling emotions that run the gamut and can change at any given time throughout the week, day, or even hour. The psychological challenge of being in limbo and facing an abnormal society is tough. But one thing we all must understand is that we are in this together. 

Since the social distancing orders were mandated, I’ve been staying home and doing my part. However, due to online grocery ordering backups and the fact that our month’s food supply was almost depleted, I decided I needed to go to the grocery store to avoid adding “hangry” to our list of emotions.

So, my wife and I decided to go to the grocery store as early as possible in hopes of encountering the least amount of people. Donned in our most fashionable face masks and gloves, we entered the store, walked through the aisles to shop, and remained focused on getting in and out as quickly as possible. 

A little more than halfway through our shopping trip, we turned the corner of an aisle and looked up to see a woman standing about 15 feet away from us. The woman, also wearing her face mask, spoke with her eyes. She looked scared, almost frightened, and then her eyes turned angry as she stared right through us.

I looked at her, she looked at me…then she looked down. I followed her gaze to see tiny little arrow stickers on the tiles. And to my surprise, the arrows were pointing behind me indicating that my wife and I were about to travel down the aisle in the wrong direction – hence, why our shopping mate was less than excited to see us and clearly felt assaulted by our insubordination. 

Once I realized what was happening, I looked up at the woman and said, “Oh wow. I am sorry. I didn’t realize it, but I guess we are going the wrong way.” Her gaze got a bit colder and she barked, “YES. YES, YOU ARE!” 

I was almost taken aback. She was publicly shaming us for an honest mistake. However, this woman was clearly very upset and assumed that we were blatantly ignoring the directions when that was not the case whatsoever.

Look, I get it. There is fear. There is concern, as there should be right now. But we need to live with grace and not let this situation bring out the worst in us – it should be bringing out the best. 

In the current environment, it seems as though whatever your internal thoughts are, they will be amplified as you get into different situations that throw you off your game or force you to feel a little uncomfortable. If you are fearful, then someone going in the wrong direction will scare you. However, if you are optimistic and compassionate, you will find that those going in a different direction may simply be misguided and can use a gentle push instead of a loud bark.

Let’s all keep in mind that in a time of crisis, our morals are tested. How we treat others and ourselves right now will define us and set the tone for when we get to the other side. While no one truly understands exactly how to navigate a situation none of us have ever experienced, we do know that grace and patience will always be more effective than callousness and irritability. 

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