When someone judges you, say you struggle with listening and someone from work keeps criticizing you for not listening to them, does that make you want to change?
Would you respond defensively after the 20th time? Or would you become frustrated at yourself? Or both?
As a Nutrition Consultant (still a newbie) the greatest lesson I've learned thus far is that telling a client what NOT to eat and what NOT to do, will do diddly SQUAT.
It's when I show them mercy first, and then grace second, that I indirectly lead them to want to change. And furthermore, this gives them permission to give themselves mercy and grace.
Mercy, according to good old google, means compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one's power to punish or harm. In other words, Mercy means to withhold judgement.
Grace, is very similar to Mercy, but means to extending kindness despite wrongdoing. It's the blessing given after extending mercy.
It's like Mercy is Step 1, and Grace is Step 2. And we desperately need both in order to change. Take Ernie for example.
Ernie, a homeless man I met in January, was standing outside one painfully cold day holding his sign. I could have said, "Go get a job or go to a homeless shelter instead of standing out in this cold." But, I can bet he probably already thought of that, or maybe even tried.
Instead, I gave him old clothes and 20$.
A few days later I saw Ernie again holding his sign in the same spot. I ran to the grocery store and bought all the healthy foods I could fit in one Aldi's bag - apples, peanut butter, trail mix, bread, very nutrient dense and calorie dense foods he could eat for a few days.
That day he told me he really wanted to start saving for a place to live. In that moment I thought, "Even if he still begs for money and never finds a place, I'll still keep trying to help him."
Since that day, I never saw Ernie again. That was back in February. He may have moved to a different spot, OR maybe he really did find a place to live. I may never know.
I do know that my efforts planted a seed. I didn't judge him, or tell him what he needed to do. He probably thought about that a lot. I didn't avoid eye contact and pretend I didn't see him. I approached him as another flawed human being, extending blessings instead of judgment.