When I was eight, my best friend at the time horribly disappointed me by unexpectedly being unable to attend my party. I was devastated – that she couldn’t come , and that as my best friend, she would do this to me. She gave me instead a small box containing a broken pendant.
It wasn’t until years later that I learned that the reason she was unable to come was because her family was too poor to give her money to buy me a gift and so her mother was too ashamed to allow her to come empty-handed. The pendant she gave me? It was the only thing of value in her life at the time – and yet, she gave it to me. Just like the widow in the Bible giving up her last two mites, she gave me the one thing she treasured.
I could say that one person’s junk is another’s treasure, but it is more than that. The lessons I learned that day from her unselfish gift have lasted me a lifetime. So often, when I am quick to judge another’s actions, the Lord tugs on my heart and reminds me that I have not walked in their shoes. I don’t know what is going on in their lives at this moment that may have caused their actions.
I was reminded of this lesson this evening. Someone had promised to help me and then failed to do so. My initial reaction was to seethe with anger, because the reason I had asked for their help with one thing, is because I was helping them with another. All sorts of ugly feelings surfaced – from anger to pride.
Was it fair that I was tired and yet still doing my part of the bargain, while they reneged on theirs? Maybe I wouldn’t be this tired and stressed out had I not been helping them to begin with. Then arrogant entitlement crept in, also known as pride: So it’s okay for me to give up my evening doing what we agreed to while you are off doing what, besides forgetting our agreement – having fun? Resting?
Fortunately, my thoughts didn’t get too far out the gate. The Lord silenced me before I could open my big mouth and put my foot in it. Instead of responding in anger, the Lord held my tongue. As I fought to let go of my resentment, He rewarded me by reminding me of the story of my friend and her pendant. I chose to forgive and not judge; I chose to bless them rather than curse them.
I’m not saying it was easy. But what made it easier is reminding myself that my role each day was to honor Him – and Him alone. We don’t always know the reasons why things happen the way they do. It is not ours to question. We are not the ones in control, as much as we’d like to be.
Seconds after handing the reins back to God and resigning my negative feelings and allowing His grace to wash over my heart in its place, I learned that there had been a medical emergency that prevented the other person from fulfilling their part of the bargain.
I silently praised God that I didn’t have to eat my words because I ultimately yielded to Him. We have free will – we either do things His way – or we do them His way – a wise pastor once told me. It’s up to us whether we want to take the easy route or the hard way. “For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”