I should have lunch with ministers more often. Over a turkey and bacon club, on gluten-free wheat bread (doesn’t make sense does it?), an elder buddy of mine waxed poetic about how we, especially I, could live a better life. He spoke from experience. I think he’d learned his lessons years earlier.
It was general conversation. I wasn’t asking, and he wasn’t preaching. It just happened to be where our thoughts went.
At one point we were talking about our frustrations – from traffic to work. When the waitress lost our food, she came over to apologize. He told her it was no problem, at all. I, unlike my friend, had a pressing meeting I had to get to. When she walked away I expressed my frustration.
“Danny, you gotta understand. She’s doing the best she can considering who she is.”
At first, I didn’t think that was a very nice thing for a man of the cloth to say. It sort of sounded like he was criticizing her intelligence. I hadn’t noticed anything wrong with her. From my perspective, we didn’t know a thing about this woman, she had just made a dumb mistake.
When I dug deeper, he gave me a broader explanation.
“What do you mean by that? Did I miss something? Do you know her?”
“No Danny. I don’t. But isn’t that what we should all shoot for?”
“What do you mean?”
“I hope when I die that folks will look back on my life and say, ‘He did all he could, considering who he was.’”
We had already talked about how many folks we knew who were struggling with life: physical or mental illness, infidelity, addiction, abuse. I told him the older I got the more I realized how many folks around me were hurting.
I guess that conversation led him to his comment.
“Danny, think about what we were talking about earlier. We have no idea what our waitress is dealing with. Give her the benefit of the doubt. Assume that she has a lot on her plate. Most of us do. Then give her grace. I expect she’s doing all she can, considering who she is.”
If you caught me on a bad day, one where work was overwhelming, one where the kids are trying my patience, one with a spot of self-pity for my circumstances, I’d likely lose an order or two myself.
I get a lot of grace from folks, many exceptions. Give him a break, his wife died.
I ought to be more generous in doling it back out.
Check the Tanners out in the September issue of Family Circle
Purchase Danny’s Book Laughter, Tears and Braids: Amazon or Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh
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