I Was Thinking…
Have you ever made a wrong turn? A few weeks ago, I made a wrong turn into an egress lane in a Publix Grocery Store parking lot. There I was, face-to-face with a car that was moving in the correct direction. I was embarrassed that I had not paid better attention. But what stung me most was the posture of the other driver. His face became angry, and his hand motions were filled with “attitude”. His lips were moving and I’m glad I couldn’t hear his words because I suspect they were less than understanding and kind. I mouthed the word “I’m sorry!” and reversed my direction. Embarrassed and disappointed in myself soon moved to disappointment and anger toward that angry driver.
Then, I remembered, almost immediately, how many times I had behaved just like that man. How many times I have chosen to take advantage of someone else’s mistake? How many times I have let someone else know that their mistake was THEIR mistake and that they should be ashamed of themselves? How many times I have pretended that I would never do such a thing?
Grace is a funny thing, isn’t it? The more we remember, with a deep self-awareness, our sins, the deeper grace runs in our lives. And the deeper grace runs in our lives the more grace-filled our immediate responses to others’ mistakes will be. When we were immature, everything someone else did that was in error became important to point out in dramatic fashion because it made us look smarter and better than someone else. When our souls, and thus our lives, journey toward maturity, things are different. Life looks different, feels different, and IS different.
In this season of hope, peace, joy, and love, I am hopeful that my life flinches will be graceful. I am a long way from maturing into the complete image of Christ…but it is the folks that had every right to give me a piece of their mind but chose to give me a piece of Christ’s heart (grace) that have helped mature me. And I am thankful.
I know that in some cases you fight fire with fire to burn a fire out. But in Christ we learn another way of relating, you fight fire with water because the cool refreshment calms down the heat so that growth can conquer impending death. Grace is the embodiment of God’s view of us and of others. It makes a difference in a healthy and productive way.
This Advent, Christmas, and into the New Year, I am hoping to give grace away. There will be moments when this will be difficult, but those are the moments I trust I will remember the grace that has been given to me. For this gift of grace needs ‘regifting’ in our families, communities, and in our world.
Jesus said it. “Give and it will be given back to you. A good portion—packed down, firmly shaken, and overflowing—will fall into your lap. The portion you give will determine the portion you receive in return.” (Luke 6:38 CEB)
The Rev. Dr. Terry E. Walton
Executive Assistant to the Bishop