The Fight Of Our Lives
One of the many things I wish I could get right in my life is the ability to show grace to seemingly grace-less people.
I'm ordinarily a nice guy, who wants to get along with everyone, but when someone crosses the lines of decency, is unnecessarily rude, or just generally pushes the wrong buttons---I don't respond well.
For example, when I'm driving down the rows in the grocery store's parking lot, and someone starts to back out of their parking space, I stop and let them, even if I don't want their space. It is a decent thing to do.
But the other day, I was starting to slowly back out of my space at the grocery store lot, and some so-and-so who was rolling down the row leaned on his horn until I stopped. He then shot me a dirty look.
It's not like I didn't see him coming when I began backing up. I have an excellent backup camera, you see. I thought he would do the same decent thing I generally do, but he didn't and was a jerk about it, too.
Immediately I went to a dark place. My faith in humanity was shaken.
I uttered a few choice words about the horn-blower, and decided he was a reprehensible person, probably kicked kittens for fun, and had no redeeming qualities whatsoever.
The fact of the matter is I had no idea who he was or what he was going through. I judged him based on my criteria of what constituted a good person without considering any other possibilities.
And even if he was a jerk (as it seemed at the moment), I never once considered how quickly I became one just because I got fired up about something he had done.
It's no secret that our society is full of fault lines. Deep divisions have become more profound due to the stresses of a global pandemic and the aftermath, political strife, and other worries.
But how are we to be the peacemakers Jesus asked his followers to be if we aren't willing to drop our weapons and resolve to act peaceably, even in the face of the anger of others?
Especially when we have been shown the kind of grace beyond imagination--the kind that covers up our multitude of sins.
Fr. Richard Rohr puts it like this:
When you've been included in the spaciousness of divine love, there is just no room for human punishment, vengeance, rash judgment or calls for retribution.
This new year brings us the chance to do better and be better. We can't always assume the worst about one another, even when it feels like the worst is what's on full display.
We are all complicated, messy creatures with dark corners, blind spots, and brokenness. We all need God's grace, which should drive us to show it to others.
If we want to see the world healed, we must find healing for ourselves first and then extend that healing to the world around us.
May you find reservoirs of grace to draw from when you think you have none left to give. May you discover the joy of seeing the world made brighter because your light shines in the darkness.
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.