Last week, I watched a storm roll in. Our family spent a week together hanging out on St. George Island, on the Gulf Coast. It’s a place my parents used to love to go to, and we decided to give it a try.
It was cloudy throughout the day, and several different thunderstorm cells rolled in at different times. Lori and I were sitting on the beach. I was alternating between reading and drifting in and out of naps, when we saw the big clouds come over the horizon.
We sat and watched the storm approach. As the sky darkened and the wind picked up, we watched the size and strength of the waves intensify. The waves were crashing farther and farther up the beach, and the waves were crashing loudly. It was awesome.
I thought to myself, “the water is just pounding the beach. It looks so angry!”
We made it off of the beach before the rain came. From the security of our screen porch, I was able to watch the whole storm: the waves and water, but also the clouds and the intense rain.
And I realized: the water wasn’t angry. The water was just the water. The energy that caused the waves and the roiling water didn’t come from the water, it came from the wind. The water and waves were just responding to the wind, the external force, that was driving it.
How often do our actions reflect an external force instead of what’s in our heart?
I’ve been frustrated by silly things:
- Drivers who go too slowly in the left lane
- Restaurant servers who are not responsive
- Customer service employees who are crabby
Too often, I take them at face value. They don’t behave in a way I expect, therefore, something must be wrong with them. Right?
Not so much. What’s going on in their life that I can’t see? Could someone they care about have received a bad diagnosis? Maybe they just had a meeting with their boss, and it didn’t go well. Perhaps they have a grandparent who’s struggling with alzheimer’s disease and they are worried about them.
We don’t know what’s really going on in the lives of those around us. We don’t know what problems they are dealing with, in the same way they don’t know what we’re dealing with.
“As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” – John 15:9-12
Grace. Jesus calls us to deal with each other in the same way he deals with us: with grace.
So next time we encounter those who frustrate, or bother, or even anger, let’s give a little grace…let’s cut them a little slack. And let’s remember that there might be more to their stories than we see. And perhaps, when they experience grace, it will be the touch of God’s love that they need to experience. We can be the way that they experience the grace and touch of Christ.
God’s peace and grace,