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In a time of curtailed freedoms, homeschool and all the other pressure that it has brought along with it, I’ve been pondering the act of grace, encouragement and peace amongst neighbours and communities.
I may have a biased perspective as I’ve grown up in a liberal Christian family that is open to all and will generally show grace before judgement. And I think it’s this belief system that has caused me to be taken aback at times when others are blatantly judgemental in the most selfish of ways.
We’ve had a small incident in our village this week when a sign post was installed near a local public common stating “no ball games”. Of course the entire community was outraged as soon as it was brought to our attention. You have to understand, the area of grass that we are talking about has been used by families playing with their small kids, exercise groups, evening soccer training and locals for 70 + years! Suddenly without consultation a sign post is installed and ball games are outlawed. Well it didn’t last long. The sign post was swiftly painted over and ignored by everyone using the space.
It turns out it was one resident that lives adjacent to the common that believed the grass was being “destroyed” and that ball games were the culprit.
My immediate thought was what could we have done differently? Why did one resident think they had the right to affect the space of a whole community. Do we have grace for those in a different phase of life?
I don’t have the answers but I do believe that having grace for others before judgement may lead to a kinder community that get on with each other regardless of personal beliefs, where difference isn’t the enemy, it’s a display of creativity and an opportunity for learning.
How can we use encouragement as a tool to lift our environment? I have found that many people are insecure and don’t experience encouragement on a regular basis. Encouragement means - to put courage in! Sometimes I have to encourage myself too, talk myself into putting on my running shoes or doing something different to break the headspace that I’m in. But often when someone else encourages me I’m so overwhelmed with gratefulness to them that I could burst into happy tears!
Maybe if the resident saw the dads playing with their kids in the evening and understood the value of that time spent together in the world that we currently live in he would have had more compassion and grace for them. Maybe if the resident watched the local soccer team and realised that they don’t have another space to use he could have had an encouraging conversation and found a way to sponsor the team through local businesses. Maybe if the resident decided to find a way to water the grass then it would grow.
I believe there is always a better way and encouragement is one of those ways. Things will only get better when we each take responsibility for our own little patch and lean into uplifting rather than tearing down. It may take some time but little by little it can make a difference.
Who can you encourage today? All it takes is a text message, a smile or a thank you at the checkout.
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