Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Don't Spill The Beans

I’m a pretty considerate driver. I try to stay out of people’s way and tend to just go along with the flow of traffic. The other day, however, everything was different. It began with a slow Texas turn out of a parking lot and a careful acceleration to just under the speed limit. Each lane change was a planned meticulous event that I avoided as long as possible. In that moment, I may as well have morphed into my grandmother barely seeing over her steering wheel as she drove her burgundy Cutlass Supreme down the streets of Skiatook, Oklahoma. The main difference between my Grandma’s careful drive and mine was that I could feel the frustration of the drivers around me. But the fact is, you must drive slowly and with great caution when totting 2 huge trays of beans in your backseat.

I’m pretty sure everyone would have understood it if only they knew the load I was carrying. Perhaps next time, I will hang a sign in my back window “beans on board”.

Doesn’t this happen in life all the time. We expect people to extend grace to us when our load is heavy or potentially messy yet we so easily get frustrated when people cause us to slow down, make changes or God-forbid have to stop what we are doing. We tend to find brilliance in people who respond (or drive) the way we do yet we quickly get our feathers rustled when someone is different. The fact is, we don’t know people’s stories. We rarely slow down to listen before jumping to conclusions.

Just like “beans on board” perhaps we should each carry personal signs - “death in the family”, “I feel alone”, “I long for attention because my parents ignore me”, “I think my spouse is cheating on me“, “I just want to feel like someone cares if I exist“. Wouldn’t this help us see people as people rather that just an obstacle to our day?

I wonder how differently we would conduct our lives if we reached out to people with grace instead of responding to how their behavior affects us! Unfortunately, we will never carry signs. Information about our pain and insecurities is kept hidden and masked. Our life’s circumstances, relationships, secrets, fears, successes and pain have brought us to where we are. Equally, the guy at work who can’t quit talking about himself and the girl who can’t seem to quit talking about everyone else has their own set of circumstances, relationships, secrets, fears, successes and pain that has brought them to where they are. Maybe it would all do us some good to slow down and listen. Maybe if we understood the load that people carry, we wouldn’t be so frustrated by how they differ from us.

Just remember, sometimes you are the one carrying the beans and sometimes you are the person behind the bean carrier. In other words, you are often the one in need of grace and perhaps even more often the one who needs to extend it.

Until next time,