While our kids were at AWANA last night, my wife and I had a chance to sit down with a couple we think very highly of. They are mentors, friends, dreamers and partners on the Journey. We enjoy their company and each opportunity to dream about ministry, community and how we can connect people to both. Our discussions, at times, can be like an episode of Seinfeld. I don’t mean that they are a “show about nothing”, rather they appear to be “all over the place” but at the end the conversation it all ties together. It would make for a great TV show.
It was during this conversation last night that I shared something that God has challenged me with several times recently. It should be no surprise that the inspiration for the challenge came from a movie quote. In the movie “First Knight“, Sean Connery plays King Arthur. At one point in the film he tells Lancelot (Richard Gere) that;
“I take the good with the bad. I can’t love people in slices”
At first, that seems like a simple quote. The more I thought about it, I think it is dripping with truth and in many ways defines the word “grace“. I find that this challenges me to not look at friends and strangers in the glimpse of the moment that I see them and make a judgement call. It is a reminder that I am only seeing a “slice” of their day, their week or their life. To form some judgement on that moment I see is to not extend a grace into what led to that point. Here are a few examples:
You’re driving down the road and someone cuts you off. They appear to be in a hurry and cut you and several other people off in their rush. My first reaction is to get all upset and think (and probably say) things about someone I don’t even know. What if their wife is in labor with their first child and they are rushing to be by her side? What if they just received news of an emergency and are doing what they can to get there? The “slice” of their day that I witnessed by them cutting me off is not the whole story. I need to extend grace and trust that there must be some reason.
How many times have I been in the grocery store or a public place and witnessed a parent yelling at their child. As parents our first reaction is to think “look at how they raise their child”. Again, I am only seeing a “slice” of what led to that moment. Maybe they had been dealing with an issue for that child all day and we witnessed the moment when it reached its crescendo. Maybe the child is difficult and this is the only way they can reach them. Maybe it’s just been one of those days (all parents have them) and we happened to see it. While my nature is to get all judgmental, I need to extend grace. I need to remember I am only seeing a “slice” of their day. A “slice” of their parenting.
How about facebook and twitter? Maybe I read the ever cryptic “status update” and begin to form opinions and thoughts based on something less than 140 characters. Particularly from “friends” I haven’t spoken with in 15 years or so. Maybe I read a status update and think I somehow know or understand what drove that comment. It’s dangerous to judge a “slice” of a person’s world in social media because I didn’t hear the tone or see the body language. It might have been sarcasm. Maybe it was a response to something totally different. I need to extend much grace in the world of social media.
To many this might seem simple but for me it’s been a challenge. It’s an area I am working through. I am often reminded that Gods grace has been extended to me more times than I can count. Thankfully he doesn’t look at the individual “slices” in my life and hold them over my head. The times of poor judgement, failure, weakness and stupidity. The times when I went right and should have gone left. The times when I ignored the Holy Spirit and went with free will. Thankfully, He too loves the whole and not in slices.
Oddly enough, we met with the friends I spoke of at the beginning of this post at Panera Bread. Is there a more perfect setting to remind me about loving people in slices???