It’s been a rough last couple of weeks. By late afternoon yesterday all I wanted to do was take out my contact lenses, slip into my fuzzy old blue slippers and curl up with an Anne Lamott book. I had nabbed an Anne Lamott book from a shelf at our teeny local library earlier that day. The slippers I’ve had since my 40th birthday party. Every time I slip them on I wonder if the friends who gave them to me thought they were hideous and never seriously expected me to wear them. I wonder if they would be embarrassed – or amused – to see me shuffling around the house (and occasionally into the driveway) in them.
Another friend gave me reading glasses for my 40th birthday. I didn’t need them (then), but as it turned out, my husband did, and I will never forget the moment he realized this need. We were at a conference at our church, and people were volunteering to read Bible passages. My husband stood up to read, and lo and behold, he couldn’t see the print. At that moment, watching him uncomfortably struggle to focus and read, I wanted to cheer. If we had been Holy Rollers, I would have made my way to the aisle, raised my hands, jogged in place, spun in circles and testified with loud “Hallelujahs!” My husband had entered my world, my coke-bottle-lenses, groping-for-my-glasses, it-hurts-like-hell-because-there’s-something-on-my-contact-lens world. That wasn’t exactly the extent of his impairment, but my imagination was going wild in that delirious moment. At any rate, since we were a Frozen Chosen body, I just sat there smugly rejoicing that in this little way he could finally relate (on some level) to my visually challenged world.
My husband entered my world that day quite unintentionally, the victim of the whims of Age. People do this type of coincidental weaving in and out of our lives all the time. It’s quite remarkable when people enter our flatulent, fallen, near-sighted, far-sighted lives, intentionally. Here I should say that “context is everything.” I’m a Christian, a follower of the Jesus who died to forgive a world of sinners like me. Within the context of this world, “unforgiving Christian” should be an oxymoron. Sadly, even non-believers know that this is not the case. We Christians, not only fail in our following in Jesus’ example of forgiveness, sometimes we boast about our lack of forgiveness. Sometimes we think we have good reasons for withholding forgiveness; e.g., the other person “needs to learn a lesson first.” Thankfully, Jesus didn’t wait for us to learn our lessons before he forgave us.
When people demonstrate this type of forgiveness, this type of intentional entering into another’s world of suffering – like some of the people in my life the past two weeks – it is an amazing thing. Seeing it makes you want to emulate it, and thankfully, you don’t need any kind of eyeglasses to get a clear picture of its beauty.