We all do it. If you say you don’t do it, you’re lying. We may as well just admit it now: Everyone leaves some text messages unresponded every once in a while. I don’t do it a lot. But it does happen from time to time, and I’m using this as an opportunity to admit it. Maybe my public confession will give you an opportunity to confess it as well.
It’s not like I mean to. I don’t (usually) look at a text and think, “I’m not going to respond to this.” It’s just that things come up. Maybe I don’t know how to respond at the moment, so I set it aside and end up forgetting. Maybe I’m in the middle of something that I can’t really get away from, and I just never get around to responding later. Maybe the text just doesn’t seem meaningful—or sensical—enough to merit a response. I don’t know. What I do know is that I often check my phone and find that I neglected to respond to a text that I received several hours before.
It doesn’t bother me so much when I’m the one who isn’t responding. But when it’s my text message that isn’t receiving the response, things feel a little different. When I’m the one waiting for the other person to text me back and wondering why they aren’t, it sometimes upsets me a little bit (or more). Even though I know in my head that I forget to respond to texts all the time, it bothers me when other people neglect to respond to my messages. It’s illogical, I know. But it’s the way it is.
I know it’s a silly example, but the truth is that we all have double standards. We excuse ourselves for the same things that we hold others accountable for. When we’re the ones doing the bothersome thing, we always have an excuse. But when someone else does something that bothers us, we won’t accept anything short of an apology (and sometimes even that won’t work). We constantly give ourselves the benefit of the doubt but rarely extend that same grace to others. This should not be so.
Here’s what I think the problem really is: We judge ourselves on our intentions, but we judge others on their actions. We can look into our own minds and see that we don’t mean to hurt other people, but we can’t look into the minds of other people. And so we assume the worst. When they hurt us, we don’t think about their intentions. We focus on what they did and how it affected us. And thus, the double standard is born.
What if we extended the same grace to others that we are always so willing to show ourselves? What if we chose not to assume the worst but instead to give others the benefit of the doubt and believe that, even if their actions were hurtful, their intentions were pure? We’re obviously capable of this; we just choose not to. I’m not saying it’s easy. But I am saying it’s possible, and I think it could make relating with other people a lot easier.
Call me naive, but I tend to think that most people are good people. Yes, there are some people out their with truly evil intentions, but they are few and far between. I believe that most people at their core are good and have good intentions, even if they struggle to live those intentions out. Most people I have met in my life have been kind and helpful, not mean or intentionally hurtful. If we give people the benefit of the doubt and show them grace even when they do things that bother us, we may be able to see past their misguided actions and actually see how good people really are.
So I’m going to try to stop assuming the worst when my texts go unanswered. And I’m going to do my best to extend the grace that I show myself in the face of my mistakes to other people. Because when it comes down to it, who we are is so much more than simply what we do. And if we give other people the chance to show us that, we may be pleasantly surprised.
That’s all I had to say this week. I hope this blog post has been uplifting to you, friends. Have a great week, and I’ll see you soon!