The other day, things were just a bit tough in my 3 year olds’ world. From the pyjamas selected for him, to the lego pieces not going together correctly, to the choice of dinner. Everything was just too much for him and was resulting in tears – lots of tears. But as his mum, I knew his back story. I knew that the day hadn’t been an ordinary day – it had started early and involved a birthday party. I knew that my little chap was tired. I knew that the tears of frustration were actually tears of tiredness. And I knew that a reassuring cuddle (followed by an early night!) was all that was needed to right everything in his world.
In life though, we don’t always have the benefit or privilege of knowing people’s back story, of knowing how their day or their life is working out. We don’t always know what has precipitated the driving that cut us off or the rude and grumpy response to us.
We have a rule in our household. No one is allowed to be rude or dismissive of telemarketers when they call. And yes, while the timing can be exceedingly annoying and I really don’t need to be asked if I want a free valuation of our home or a ventaliation system installed, no one is allowed to be rude. Why? Because I know they all have a back story. I don’t know what the back story is, but I have sometimes thought that maybe they’re a student working these inconvenient hours to pay for their education. Maybe it’s a mum working an extra job to afford a better life for her children. Or maybe it’s someone’s first job and they are passionate about sales and people! I just know that whoever is at the other end of the phone – they have a story and so I choose grace.
Grace to not be another grumpy, annoyed person in maybe a string of them. Grace to be part of the good of their day (or even the inconsequential) and not the bad.
We need to show grace and compassion to those around us. To look beyond how someone’s actions are impacting us and to know that we don’t see the whole picture. We don’t see the moments before – the bad news, disappointment they’ve received, the hurt they’ve just encountered. We don’t know what they are going through.
Jesus walked this earth with compassion. He looked beyond and saw people’s back story and extended grace and hope. From the woman caught in adultery to the Samaritan woman, to Zacchaeus up a tree. He looked to see, really see. And they all had an encounter with God.