Two incidents in close proximity have given me the chance to examine how I come across–from both sides. First, after the Weekend With the Writers, I received an encouragement that moved me like a brush of the Holy Spirit. One of the attendees mentioned some things she had observed that touched her. The incidents she described were ways I had interacted with specific individuals, little things–it seemed to me–but I realize now they were not little to others. Reading her note, I was flooded by knowledge that it was Christ in me that became visible through my actions, his abiding tenderness that reached out and was present and gracious. What a privilege to be a vessel of kindness and encouragement in ways I was not even particularly aware of.
The other happened this week. After an altercation with someone in my household, I was in a grievous mood. My normal mode is to withdraw. That can have a negative connotation, but it keeps me from from saying things I will regret, things that injure and can’t be taken back–even though my husband claims to find them more amusing than injurious. I also attempt to get my thoughts back in order. It is not creative time. It is time lost, if I can’t break through it.
On this occasion, I put in my noise-cancelling earbuds, cranked up the playlist on my phone and went about doing other things. This would have been fine, except another person in the household spoke to me from above and behind. It was a perfect storm of oblivion and offense because–neither seeing nor hearing–I walked away without response, clueless to the impression being made. It escalated into a day of misery for the ignored party–of which I was still completely unaware. Had I not closed in to my own affront and frustration, the Spirit could have worked through all of it.
I’m often overcome during Holy Week by sheer sadness at the thought of Christ’s suffering and amazement that people could be in his presence and not see. Then something like the incident I described makes it clear how easy it is to close not only my ears but my heart as well. On this Good Friday, as we meditate on the sacrifice Jesus made for our salvation, may our ears and eyes and hearts be open to the sorrow, to the cruelty, to the loneliness and infirmity, to the whip-strokes, agony, and death that our own selfish actions brought upon our Lord. Vow, with me, to let that reminder soften any blows that come our way, so that in all things we can respond in ways that others watching will see Christ and not our all too human shells.