Written by Amy Parker
One day last week, the woman in front of us at the grocery store was taking for . . . ev . . . er. After the cashier scanned a cartload of groceries, there was some glacially paced issue with processing her check.
When they determined that they couldn’t accept her check, do you know what my saint-of-a-husband did?
He told the cashier, “I’ve got this” and swiped his card.
Grace, y’all. Just grace.
Patience. Kindness. Taking deep breaths.
Whatever it is, this world needs boatloads of it, and stat.
Why do we feel the need to make our opinions so public these days?
The effects of this mob mentality, of jumping on bandwagons and publicly assassinating people after we’ve “educated” ourselves with an attention-grabbing headline, drives me bonkers. And frankly, it ruins lives.
Can anyone survive the criticism of the entire world?
I know, I know. This world can bombard us with the bad, and we feel the need to fight back. But really, what’s the best way to do that?
Let’s ask Jesus.
He said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 NIV).
Do we act and think and love like people who really believe that? (Talking to myself here.)
I sure hope so.
In our communities
In the school pick-up line several months back, movement in my rearview mirror caught my attention. A nicely dressed woman in a shiny SUV had lost her ever-loving mind.
Her face was contorted. She was flailing her arms. And after a moment of lip reading and translating this interpretive dance, I deduced that she was kindly asking me to move.
I’m not sure where I was supposed to move—up the bumper and trunk of the car in front of me? But I did start to wonder what series of events had led her to that level of frustration.
And can we be honest here?
That could have been any of us. By three o’clock in the afternoon, an endless variety of chaos and to-dos and calendar requests have been thrown in our faces. It’s enough to make us flail our arms and contort our faces and just tell everyone to MOVE.
If you’re not that person today, you may be that person tomorrow. So, maybe we can extend a smile and a wave and a whole lot of grace to that sweet mama who just happens to be losing her mind today.
In our homes
Our pastor always says, “If you really want to know the truth, just ask the little people in your homes.”
And it always draws a laugh because everyone knows: mamas and daddies can be on their best grownup behavior at church, but that morning beforehand can be a whole different kind of story. And the reason everyone laughs at that is because no home is perfect.
Nope, not even the ones you see on Instagram.
Oddly, as parents, I think the home—where we’re supposed to feel the most comfort—can be the place where we feel the most pressure. Are we raising them right? Are they wearing the right clothes? Can toddlers live by fruit snacks alone?
And, in a way, that’s a good thing. It’s (obviously) healthy to be concerned about our children and our homes. But we have to find a way to deal with that pressure and to sort out which of those concerns really matter in the long run.
Jesus explained, “Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” (Matthew 6:25–34).
Now, I would love for this to mean that I don’t have to cook dinner tonight. But I’m pretty sure the key word here is worry. As in, don’t.
We can give all of that stuff we worry about to God. And he will always, always provide.
In our hearts
Yikes. This is a tough one.
Allow me to illustrate.
My husband, son, and I were riding in our own (not-so-shiny) SUV one evening when suddenly a truck ran up the driver’s side with a metal-crushing blow.
“#@^*!” was my immediate, involuntary response.
My son, fully embracing his bad-word police duties, yelled, “MOOoom!”
Apparently, the word that came out of his mother’s mouth was more shocking than the truck slamming into our car. And that said something to me. Something convicting. Something that made me want to forever erase that word from my mind and my heart.
Jesus taught, “The mouth speaks the things that are in the heart” (Matthew 12:34 NCV).
Really? Was that what was in my heart?
Well, maybe in that split-second impact. But, even then, how can we remove those destructive things from our hearts?
Much to my relief, I’m not the first one to have this issue. Paul taught the Corinthians, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5 NIV).
Whew. Consider that word demolished. Captive. (At least for today.)
“Every thought” may be a lofty goal, but it can most certainly be a goal to strive toward. We can make a conscious attempt, each and every day, to make our thoughts—every thought—worthy of Christ. And maybe even the bad-word police.
In a recent interview about writing, I closed with, “There are enough critics in this world. Find an encourager. Be an encourager.” And I think that fits well here too. It doesn’t only apply to writers; it applies to all of us.
There is criticism, sin, darkness, squandering, disrespect, vanity, greed, gossip, and just plain evil all around us and even within us. But Jesus—if we really, truly believe in the words he has left us—has overcome all of that.
And, in the midst of all of that, we are called to be the light.
Paul tells the Ephesians simply, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32). It’s hard to refute a reminder like that. It reminds us of our weaknesses. It reminds us of Christ’s sacrifice. And it reminds us overwhelmingly of the magnitude of God’s love.
But, most of all, it reminds us of grace.
Max Lucado says, “The grace-given give grace.”
And I, for one, have been given boatloads of it.
I have no choice but to give the same.