After I posted recently about the importance of being kind to others, Barb, from My Life in Our Father’s World , commented with the following hashtag: #shareHisgrace.
While my piece spotlighted the usefulness of people cultivating the good, Barb shined a floodlight on where to find it in its purest form.
Thank you, friend, for bringing the focus back where it belongs—on God. You added to the value of my thoughts exponentially.
I said to the Lord, “You are my Lord; I have nothing good besides You.
Psalm 16:2 (NASB)
This collaborative experience with a fellow believer jogged my memory about a true story of two people who showed uncommon grace to each other. It happened at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin.
Shuhei Nishida and Sueo Oe were two Japanese pole vaulters tied for second place at the summer games. However, as good friends and teammates, they declined to compete against each other (in a jump off) to decide between the silver and the bronze. So the silver was awarded to Nashida and the bronze to Oe, based on the fact that Nashida cleared the height in fewer attempts.
However, when they returned home to Japan, the two athletes did something extraordinary. They had a jeweler cut each of their medals in half and splice together two new ones—half silver and half bronze. They called these creations “Medals of Friendship.”
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in it’s various forms.
1 Peter 4:10 (NIV)
A Few Observations
It’s God’s gift, not mine — the two athletes valued their friendship more than competition.
It’s not MY grace, either — they demonstrated this by committing to something larger than themselves.
God’s grace comes in different flavors — the Medals of Friendship were a unique way to show the true depth of their relationship.
My collaboration with Barb (and other believers, on and off-line) reminds me that our life in Christ is a shared experience. We are many members, but ONE body (Romans 12:4-5).
I like to call this interconnection “3 Makes 2”
Walk in the wisdom of God as you live before the unbelievers, and make it your duty to make Him known. Let every word you speak be drenched with grace and tempered with truth and clarity. For then you will be prepared to give a respectful answer to anyone who asks about your faith.
“Whoever is patient has great understanding, but one who is quick-tempered displays folly.” — (Proverbs 14:29)
As a teacher at an elementary school, I’ve heard young children say some pretty profound things. I was out on the playground one day with the kids, when a little guy came up to me to show me his fancy band-aid. It was a big purple one that covered half his little forehead. He pointed to it and said, “My mommy says this is a magic band-aid. It let’s the boo-boo breathe.”
Let the boo-boo breathe
Not long after my conversation with the enlightened kindergartener, I was called to my principal’s office for a meeting with an upset parent. Before the mother arrived, I asked my boss how I should respond.
I’ll always be grateful for her advice. She told me that the less I said the better. “Most caregivers just want to be heard,” my principal said. “They need to know that you care about their child.”
So I listened. It was hard when the mother made unfounded accusations–based on false information from her child–but I held my peace until it was my turn to speak. Calmly, I said, “Maam, we each want the same thing; we both want what is best for your child.”
Instantly, the icy wall between us melted. The mother began, with tears in her eyes, to tell of her struggles as a single parent. Like my principal said, an overwhelmed caregiver just wanted to be heard. She needed to know that someone understood.
I wish I could say this is how I’ve always approached interpersonal conflict. The reality is, many times in my life I’ve lost perspective and overreacted in frustration or anger. This has usually only made things worse.
Here are a few ways I let the “boo-boo breathe,” to give myself a buffer zone before acting:
Do No More for 24 – When you’re super angry, whatever you say or do is unlikely to help the situation. Give yourself 24 hours (or more) to cool off, and then calmly state your grievances (if necessary) with the other party.
Just Don’t It – When you aren’t sure how to react to a situation, do this: NOTHING. Like the old song by the Beatles says, 🎶”There will be an answer. Let it be.”🎶 Okay, this one is almost the same as Do No More for 24, but not quite. Maybe it’s not necessary for you to DO anything.
Talk With a Trustworthy Friend – Sometimes it can be helpful to take the decision out of your own hands. Share your dilemma with a trusted friend–someone who is not so close to the situation–and let them help you decide.
Finally, here are a few of my favorite “Magic Band-aid” scriptures to let the boo-boo breathe. I’d love to hear some of yours. Or maybe you have a story about how a relational time-out saved the day. Please share!
“Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools.” — (Ecclesiastes 7:9)
“The wise fear the Lord and shun evil, but a fool is hot headed and yet feels secure.” — (Proverbs 14:16)
“Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret–it leads only to evil.” — (Psalm 37:8)
A parting thought:
The power of a particular emotion doesn’t necessarily determine it’s value.