I don’t know about you, but tonight I’m feeling pretty drained. I seem to make a habit out of “having my hand in too many fires” as my mom phrases it. This week things piled up: school work, extra shifts at my job, the daily blogging, caring for my sister, keeping up with the few things around the house I do anymore, and the various things I do at church. To top it off, today I got word that a person I had been relying on for relief wasn’t going to be able to continue doing what they’ve been doing.
I wasn’t pleased. I tried to be as calm and polite about it as my over-worked emotions could be at the moment, and I think I did okay at it. I still stewed in it half the night while I worked though. I had a nice long debate in my head about how I ought to be reacting as a friend and a Christian and so on. Spoiler alert: I’m not angry at the person anymore (although sadly that was my first reaction).
I should probably go ahead and admit I’ve toed a fine line between loyalty and legalism for just about all of my new life. I tend to think and act as though what is right or wrong for me is right or wrong for everyone else as well. News flash: it isn’t. Romans 14 is one of the chapters I need to read over and over and over again.
“Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.” vs. 4
Between having a small (immediate) family and a small church family, I’ve come to adopt one of my grandpa’s mottos: If I don’t do it, it won’t get done. There are lots of things that need doing. Plenty of them are things I don’t want to do, or maybe shouldn’t have to do, but regardless, they need to get done. Unfortunately, I tend to slap a prejudice on anyone who isn’t doing what I think they should be and I’m usually not quiet about it. As passive as I am a lot of the time, I’m not shy on confrontation, and I have no problem with addressing something that I perceive to be problem.
While I mentally laid out all the things that my friend could have done differently and imagined what I wanted to tell them about their commitment, the other half of me kept retorting with comments I didn’t really want to hear.
“You just had a check bounce. You made a commitment to your bank and to the addressee and you didn’t keep it.”
“You skipped a class two days ago to do homework you put off in another class. You didn’t keep your commitment to your teacher and classmates.”
“Last week you forgot to do your part in a class project which delayed it a whole week.”
“You didn’t feed the dog. You didn’t put the ice packs in the freezer. You didn’t sweep the roof. You missed a blog post this week.”
As the list went on I became at least at frustrated with myself as I had been with my friend.
Finally I had to ask myself, “Where’s your grace?”
As it turns out, my friend has just as much, if not more than, on their plate as I do.
“You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your
brother? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God. Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way. Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.” vs. 10, 13, 19
I’ve been where my friend is. In fact I’m not sure I’ve really left it. But for me to chastise that person for not doing what I want them to do isn’t right. There was a time when I had to step down from certain things. It was humbling and it made me feel guilty for a while, but it was what I needed at the time.
I don’t know if you’re like me, or not. Maybe you don’t have any problem with judging other people or with feeling overburdened or with needing to count to 10 and let the Lord remind you of just how perfect you’re not. But for me, it’s helpful to ask myself from time to time, “Where’s your grace?”