Give a Little Grace
by Debbie Holloway
Winter weather is pretty bipolar in the great Commonwealth of Virginia. One day it can be warm and sunny, and the next day you curse your bad luck for not wearing earmuffs and gloves when you walk out the door. However, when bad weather is forecast, local reactions are solidly predictable, specifically when it comes to “preparation” and driving in abnormal road conditions.
“Snow? SNOW? IT’S GOING TO SNOW?!”
People around here freak out and buy a lot of bread and milk when storms are predicted. If your significant other suggests, “Hey, we’re out of ____, can you stop by Wal-Mart?” on the evening a snowstorm is predicted to hit: forget about it; society is on crazy pills. Additionally, nobody around here can drive in the snow either. Obviously greater caution is called for with icy and slippery road conditions, but people see white stuff and generally throw out every rule they ever learned about How to Be a Good Driver.
Such reactions generate a lot of scorn from imported northerners. After all, children in Michigan attend school daily in the wintery months in upwards of a foot of snow. Why do Richmond kids get classes canceled at the forecast of snow? There is definitely impatience and indignation – and no doubt it is well-deserved!
After doing a fair amount of grumbling during our recent snows, I thought, Hmm, this seems familiar… spiritually...
Isn’t it easy to find ourselves being “northerners” when we find ourselves around those at different points in their spiritual walks? We find it easy to look down upon, mock, or judge people who have difficulty living with restraint, modesty, chastity, gentleness, or a host of other spiritual virtues. We roll our eyes at people unfamiliar with the Bible, who can’t rattle off verses by memory as quickly as their ABCs.
Essentially, we are impatient with those who have less (or different) theological, spiritual, or biblical exposure and knowledge. But how is that fair? In reality, many people are ill-prepared simply because of their upbringing. Many come to Christ as adults, out of nonbelieving families. Many people don’t have much time (or the inclination!) to devote to in-depth biblical or theological study. Many people grew up in a church where only the most basic of Gospel truths were touched on, and become paralyzed when more complex life situations rear their ugly heads.
Should all Christians have an intense drive to make themselves as knowledgeable and as spiritually “prepared” as possible? Well, yes. But we live in a busy, imperfect world full of busy, imperfect people. Everyone’s experience is different; everyone is part of a unique story.
So when the “snowstorms” of life come, don’t mock the “southerners” in your midst who freak out. Instead, be there for them. Extend grace, love, and friendship. Not everyone can be prepared for what seems like No Big Deal to you. Everyone’s hard place deserves validation in a Kingdom of God marked by compassion, equality, forgiveness, and love.
Intersecting Faith and Life: The next time you hear someone complain about someone else (say, a crazy driver) – let it remind you that everyone’s story is unique, and every situation has a context.
The Characters of Christmas is a podcast created to help you take a fresh look at the Christmas story by getting to know the minor characters that played a part in Jesus’ birth. It is the companion to Dan Darling's book "The Characters of Christmas: The Unlikely People Caught Up in the Story of Jesus."