Greetings! I am back in dutch country! There truly is no place like home and it always feels good to sleep in my own bed at night. The view is different, it's a pond. I will miss the sunrises from vacation, they were incredible.
I know I keep talking about how friendly everyone in the south is, but I have to add one more thing we discovered on the last day we were there. We were out for a walk on the road, which we don’t usually do. (We love the beach.) Looking ahead, I saw a pack of road bikers coming and I braced myself to be viewed by them as an insignificant walker and to be snubbed.
Not the case! “Good morning!” “Hello!" “How ya doing!“ One by one they called out a greeting as they whizzed by. It was such a nice surprise! We both commented on it as road bikers have a reputation of being arrogant and rude.
Now, I am a road biker myself and I try not to conform to this kind of snobbish riding. There are two things I do not care for when it comes to this sport. Number one is the outfit. Seriously! I'm glad I am a girl and that’s all I’m going to say about that.
Number two is the snottiness that seems to take over people when they get on a road bike. I think it's totally an ego thing and I get it to a certain degree. When I'm suited up (packed in spandex,) clipped in and my earbuds are blasting “Unbelievable” by EMF, I am undeniably feeling like a badass as I cruise out of my driveway. It is then that this “road biker arrogance” might kick in. That is, IF I meet another biker taking this seriously as well. In that case, I will possibly nod, maybe raise a finger (not the middle one) or if I can see there will be absolutely no acknowledgment from them, they get nothing. I stare at the ground in front of me and do nothing, but try to look like I don’t even see them.
I am a serious and focused cyclist. In my early years of road biking, I didn't understand this and I would try to be friendly. I would yell out a, “hi” or "Great morning for a ride, isn't it,” and get nothing in return. It always left me feeling empty and deflated, so after awhile I quit trying so hard. I’d rather hang on to badass biker Sherry, then snubbed middle schooler Sherry.
How does this tie in to this week's topic? Stick with me here. Lately I have had to remind myself, and others, that when do we have these encounters that leave us feeling empty, mad, or taken aback, we are quite often catching only a glimpse of what’s going on with the other person. We have absolutely no idea what's going on inside of them.
I try to extend that grace with anyone that I don’t know very well. I don’t know what happened 5 minutes before my negative encounter with them, so how on earth can I make the snap decision that it's all about me? The same goes for others when it comes to me. I would like to be given that same grace when it comes to me snapping for reasons unknown to the other person.
I try to tell myself when eight cycling men pass me without a word, it is perhaps because they are observing a cause and riding in silence. Or maybe I intimidate them? Not likely, but it's all I've got.
A better example would be the pizza that never came Friday night. An hour later, I called and they had no record of my order. I was so hangry! I held my tongue because you never get mad at someone who is about to make your food. That's too risky, so I held my tongue. (Which I like to think I would've done, even if it didn't involve food.) Did I want the girl who took the order to lose her job? Not really. She didn't purposely try to starve me to death. It was 10:00 before we got our pizza and it was free; oh well. I wasn't going to die without it, I guess. Close though.
In writing about grace, this experience came to mind. Around 17-18 years ago, when we were camping, my friend and I did some laundry. We went to get it out at about 10:15 pm. However, the laundry was supposed to be out by 10:00 pm, according to the sign posted. We had been camping there for years and never even noticed it.
As we were leaving, the owner came after us with the angriest, meanest mouth I had ever heard. This guy was going ballistic over the fact that we had detained him by 15 minutes. He was sick of our crap and next time, we would find our laundry taken care of by him! After the initial shock that this grown man was yelling at us, I was afraid. I mean, he was spitting his words out with venom that moved me straight into fear. He followed us back to our trailers, just screaming obscenities at us. After he left us, we both bawled!
It was so unexpected, I think we went through the gauntlet of every female emotion possible in less than 10 minutes. From then on, I hated that guy. It instilled in me this PTSD-like fear about breaking rules that has stayed with me. I could get into that too, but that’s a whole different blog post. Seriously though, that is what happened.
I let this crazy guy affect the rest of our summer and obviously for a long time after. I was actually kind of afraid of him. I had never been yelled at like that in my life, much less as an adult. I truly did not know how to handle it. So, I decided to hate him. I avoided him at all costs and pretty much let it ruin the rest of my summer. Never mind that up until that night, the guy had been very nice. He was always extra nice to our kids too. I left my feelings about him right there for a long time.
Then we heard they were selling the campground, and that his wife was very sick, and I knew he did not know the Lord. What happened that night prior to 10:15 pm, I will never know. But I do know this; I should've given him some grace. A lot of grace. Even if I couldn't bring myself to do it immediately, I should have sucked up my fear and pride and been nicer. He tried to be nice to us after that night, but I would have nothing to do with it. Remember my line: what you don't get over, will get all over you. Well, I was covered with it!
Oh, that growth process is painful sometimes, but so necessary! That incident has taught me well. I try to remember it when I have those encounters with people that leave me with that “what the heck did I do to them” question. Rick Warren says those people are in a class called EGR. That stands for Extra Grace Required. He also says if you can’t think of anyone requiring extra grace, it’s probably you! Yes, there are times when we all require a little extra grace. I find myself in this situation way too often!
God gives us extra grace every day even though we are totally underserving of it. All he asks, is that we return that grace to those difficult people. That can be hard, but I try to remember to “love others like Christ loves us.” It’s not easy and it can be challenging, but what good does it do to keep ruminating on the whys and wherefores of why somebody hurt you?
Give it to God and move on. You can tell people all you want that you should extend grace to others, but the best way to tell them is to show them. Remember it is, “by grace you have been saved.”
Grace and peace on your weekend. After all, they do work well together!