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Stories from Home: An Extension of Grace

(From a column I wrote on Facebook in 2020)

Those of you who have been married for any length of time know the occasional spat and quarrel will come up between you. Such as that happened between me and the misses last evening. A week of poison ivy and doctors and graduation preparation and events and poor sleep and medicine that makes the user antsy (we both were warned about that), and well, we each caught an edge last evening. We both were convinced we were right, and, long story short, we spent most of the evening and overnight in separate rooms. Morning comes and we talked over the incident and came to a truce at least. She went to work and I headed downstairs to our room to get dressed for the day. Upon reaching the room, I noticed something. The woman, whom I love, extended an extraordinary act of grace to me. She hung up my clothes and folded others. In her frustration with me, her concern for my well-being was still present. Such is life at nearly 38 years of marriage. While thinking about the scene this morning, it lead to some other thoughts, as I drove up to Virginia. Jesus said, "Love your neighbor as yourself." As He says this, as described in the Gospel according to Luke, another person asks him, "who is my neighbor?" It is from that exchange that we hear the story of the Good Samaritan. We hear how it is not the priest or the Pharisee who helps the man on the side of the road, rather, it is the hated Samaritan - one who was anathema to most Jews of that day. It is easy to extend kindness and love to people who are like us and who treat us well. It is quite another, it seems, to extend love & kindness to one who has harmed us, and/or does not look like us, speak like us, have the same values as us, different political persuasions, different religious beliefs, and so on. Jesus tells us, "Pray for your enemies and for those who persecute you."

A writer in the Proverbs (25:21-22) put it this way: "If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat. If he is thirsty, give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head." Too often, we are looking for ways how to get someone. How to rid them of power. How to make another life miserable. How to put another at a disadvantage. How to belittle the values and beliefs of another. How to embarrass another. Could it be that the way to get out of our messes is to look for ways to serve others with whom we have conflict? It may not necessarily quell the argument, or make one less an enemy, but it made defuse a situation rather than allow it to conflagrate.

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