I was thinking...
Have you ever had a bad day? Have you ever caused someone else to have a bad day? Both are no fun but to share ‘bad day-itis’ with someone else really stinks. Toward the end of the month of May I rear-ended a young woman’s automobile. Of course, I didn’t mean to crash into her bumper and put her in line for a new trunk, but I looked left to turn right and assumed she was accelerating forward when she was sitting in a stopped position. My bad day was shared with her and her grandmother. I felt terrible. I soon learned it was a car given to her by her grandparents upon her graduation from high school… I felt even worse.
The Georgia State Patrol officer was kind and gentle with this preacher. I received my citation and both of us drove off. Absolutely, it could have been worse, but it was still a bad moment, that made for a bad day, and my bad day became their bad day as well. Accidents happen, but when they do there is this feeling of ‘if only I could reverse time and keep this from happening.’
Have you ever had a good day? Have you ever caused someone else to have a good day? Both are glorious but to share ‘good day-itis’ with someone else is great fun. Jesus is recorded to have shared “Give and it will be given to you. A good measure pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.” (Luke 6:38, NRSV) Jesus was talking about judging others, condemning others, and forgiving others. All are merciful offerings that are often counterintuitive in the heat of a difficult moment. Yet when given (when in the earthly terms other responses are well deserved) there is a blessing that follows…you have a good day and you have shared a good day with another.
Which leads me to this question: Have you ever had a bad day and decided you were NOT going to share your bad day with someone else? This is a challenge. I am guilty of having a bad day and then out of frustration, I spread my ‘bad day-itis.’ I snap at my wife or am curt with a neighbor or speak rudely to a grocery cashier or blow my horn angrily in traffic or, worst of all, play the passive-aggressive game of pouting and having those who care for me attempt to guess my neediness. Does any of this describe anyone you know? Maybe you?
Life is real for all of us. There are good days and bad days. We do not live on an island by ourselves; therefore, we are impacted by and impact others. The infamous ‘Golden Rule’ crosses thousands of years and several religions. Jesus knew it and wanted to make certain that others knew it as well. “Treat people in the same way that you want them to treat you.” (Luke 6:31 CEB) Why is this so difficult? Because we all struggle with the human condition of sin, which at its core is selfishness, self-centeredness, narcissism, conceit… and the list goes on.
It was the Apostle Paul who wrote to the young Christians in Rome: “Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good.” It is radical today and it was radical in Paul’s day to “Live in harmony with one another…do not be haughty…do not claim to be wiser than you are…do not repay evil for evil but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceable with all. (Romans 12:16 ff NRSV)
All our days are filled with opportunities to help others have a good day. All our days are filled with chances to be a positive witness of a greater than human love. All our days, some good and some bad, are windows for others to see into our soul.
I pray that on that day, back in the month of May, when I plowed into the back of a young lady’s automobile, that I offered some grace amid disappointment. Accidents happen, and they can’t be reversed, but God can use anything for God’s purposes. This I believe with all my heart.
The Rev. Dr. Terry E. Walton
Executive Assistant to the Bishop