I had a few other blog posts that I could have posted today. You know, ones that actually address the current state of our world and how so much is broken and sick and needy. But I decided to go a different route for this Friday. I decided to share a really crazy idea…
What if we decided to believe that everyone is doing their very best given their situation, their faith (or lack thereof), and their circumstances at that particular moment in time? What if we began there? What if we met people there? I’m thinking it would change our relationships.
It would probably stop us from gossiping and slandering. Because gossiping and slandering assumes that the other person is not doing their very best. And we would probably stop criticizing. Because criticism births out of pride or jealousy, both of which are revealed and challenged and eventually demolished when we set our eyes on Jesus instead of on the weaknesses or mistakes of others.
I don’t know. All of this hit me when I was recently in Starbucks and I overheard four sweet, good-intentioned, slightly-naive college students talking about what makes a parent a good parent. It was…precious. And they were doing their very best with that conversation given their situation and circumstances. But one of their conclusions: A good parent has sanitary, clean kids. In other words, having dirty kids means you’re a bad parent. Dirty = bad. Clean = good. Y’all. I died.
I mean, just last night at dinner, I watched as my sweet, 8-year-old boy got ketchup on his elbow. Instead of grabbing a napkin he spent a solid minute trying to lick it off. And when he couldn’t reach it with his tongue, he gave up and left the ketchup on his elbow with a quickly whispered, “Can’t reach.” Instead of grabbing the napkin. People, I cannot control his state of cleanliness. I’ve tried. It’s mind-numbing.
But those young college girls were doing their very best with that conversation given their (childless) situation and life circumstances. So I didn’t blast them with a condescending one-day-you-will-understand look. I didn’t curse them to have 4 of the dirtiest kids on their block. I’m not offended. Though I think I internally stamped the moment with a “bless their hearts.” Because they’re doing their very best… you’re catching on.
This mindset choice doesn’t mean we’re condoning everything that everyone does. It doesn’t mean we’re approving of everything that everyone does. Have you seen the news? I’m thinking that this mindset would soften our perspective of others. It would press us towards prayer rather than control.
You’re husband, he’s doing his very best at this particular moment given his situation, his faith, and his circumstances. You’re kids, they’re doing their very best at this particular moment given their situation, their faith, and their circumstances. Your parents, your sisters, your brothers, your friends, your in-laws, your neighbors, that guy in the grocery store. The last person who hurt you.
And what if we just met people right where they are — right there in the midst of their current best — with Jesus. What if we met them with Jesus love. Jesus grace. Jesus truth. Jesus forgiveness. Jesus mercy. Jesus power. Jesus healing. Jesus beauty. What if instead of offense and criticism and slander, we poured out Jesus.
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
The only way I know to do that is if we die to our selves and find our identity firmly in Him. The only way to meet people with Jesus in the midst of their now is if our focus is on Jesus — asking Him to give us His vision, His compassion, and His love for His creation. Those aren’t just words. They’re truths meant to affect how we live out our days.
I’m thinking that we would step into a whole new level of “best.” A whole new level of freedom. The best that chooses grace. The best that chooses love. The best that believes for God’s kingdom to come.
Fill me, Lord…
How would that mindset change you in your most difficult relationship?