It started as a marketing strategy, to keep a list of clients who might want a massage but got hung up on scheduling. I would simply text them when I had openings, asking them if they wanted an appointment. If they didn’t reply, I would drop them from the list. It worked pretty well, but one of the drawbacks I noticed was that the number of late cancellations and no-shows went up. It turned out that some people want massage, but they have difficulty keeping appointments, for a variety of reasons that may or may not be under their control. I was, nonetheless, getting more business and making more money, so it was in my interest to forgive the inconsistencies.
What I learned was that, for some people, this is a profound grace that I can offer. Some people who aren’t good at remembering appointments feel deep regret every time they miss one, and it’s happened a lot over the years. They will forgo self-care to avoid showing other people the disrespect of their inadequacy. When they learned that I accepted and forgave them completely, they became very loyal, grateful clients.
(Note that forgiveness, as I learned from A Course In Miracles, is the recognition that as a part of the Divine, I—and you—can never be harmed in any way, therefore I don’t actually have anything to forgive anyone else. This is challenging, but much more liberating for everyone than thinking something like, You hurt me, but I forgive you.)
It’s commonly held among massage therapists that missing appointments is a violation of boundaries, and if we don’t hold clients accountable for it, they will lose respect for us and take advantage of our willingness to accommodate them. Maybe that is true for some people.
But for me now, I find that, sometimes, as much as people need work with their bodies, they need grace. They need redemption. They may have abused their bodies, they may not eat well, they may not exercise or do the stretches their other massage therapist prescribed, they may perceive that they are failing their bodies and their bodies are failing them in a million ways, but we can help them to make the most of what they have to work with right now. We can help them to come to better balance. We can help them to find peace in and with their bodies, and in and with the world. If we can forgive their failures, maybe they can forgive themselves.
This may be the most important thing any of us can do for anyone. What a wonderful privilege it is, so simple, so powerful, to be able to offer this grace.