Everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. – James 1:19-20
I walked in the door one day to find a family friend visiting my son. It was a work day, and I had been away from my desk for an hour, so I checked my email as I said hello. That’s all it took to set me off.
“I’ve been offering to do this for nearly two months, and now they’re coming to me for help? Now, with the deadline so close?” I vented. My frustration was apparent and vociferous. Our friend stared at me wide-eyed as if wondering if he entered the wrong house or a parallel universe. This wasn’t the sweet, kind Mrs. H he thought he knew.
As soon as he left, I saw my sin and kicked myself in the backside. How many times have I lectured my kids about cutting people some slack, yet I fail to do it myself?
Most of us are guilty. But few of us consider what people may be facing.
You know that colleague who perpetually scrambles to get her act together? She’s doing her best just to get by as she tries to keep up with her job, her husband and kids, and her elderly parents.
That cashier who barely returned your cheerful “good morning” found out that morning her hours were cut, and she doesn’t know how she and her kids will continue to get by on her income.
That server who messed up your order not once but twice just learned she’s soon to join the ranks of unwed mothers, and she doesn’t know what to do or to whom to turn.
The friend who isn’t responding to your texts and calls is wrestling with depression so deep and so dark that she doesn’t understand how a good and gracious God could allow her to suffer so much.
Your elderly mother-in-law is so preoccupied with her new realities—adult diapers, medicine schedules, increased dependence and decreased independence – that she doesn’t even realize she snapped at you.
The woman at church who seems so unfriendly has been betrayed so many times that she doesn’t know whom to trust.
Your adult child who doesn’t remember to respond to you is completely overwhelmed with day-to-day responsibilities and is in survival mode from one day to the next.
That “friend” who gossiped about you is looking for any possible diversion from the heartache of her failing marriage.
The rude customer in line in front of you just learned of a potentially fatal prognosis, and he can’t even process what it means to be ready to die.
The teenager who cut you off on the road and responded to your honk with a symbolic hand gesture has never known stability, authority, accountability or unconditional love.
Your husband faces pressures and fears he doesn’t know how to share, so he bottles them up inside and occasionally erupts inexplicably.
We don’t know—we can’t know—what everyone around us is facing. Regardless, we can choose to respond with patience, kindness and compassion. Who knows? You could be the one needing a little grace next time.