Just last week I had to make a phone call to follow up a query that I had been left with. I dialled the number and the wife of the man I needed to speak to answered. The conversation went:
“Hello!’ “Hi, it’s Deacon Ian here, could I speak to John please?’ “Oh, hold on Deacon, I’ll just get him, he’s loading Belinda at the moment!” “Er, okay, is now convenient?” “Oh sorry, (Laughing) Belinda is our name for the dishwasher – I’ll just get him.”
After our conversation was finished, I was thinking about that moment. In our house the name of the dishwasher, is whoever happens to end up standing at the sink just after the meal has finished! Over the years, and I’m sure that this is the same in many homes, all sorts of ingenious ways have been attempted to avoid being the one who does the washing up! The area around the sink doesn’t really allow space for 2, so often the dishwasher finds themself on their own, whilst everybody else disappears from the kitchen.
I have to admit that every so often this can cause a bit of resentment, and a feeling of “it’s not fair!” So when I read in a spirituality book, that I should try and do things I resent “with good grace”, I find myself doubly challenged.
Firstly, how do I try to get over the resentment of having to do the task when others aren’t, and then secondly, how do I do it in such a way that the Christian values that I like to think I live by, shine through?
When I think about how I can resolve this particular issue, I just come up with a list of other times when I should, ‘do it with good grace!’ As I reflect I can see that there is one dominating fact in all of these instances, namely, that I’m trying to put my interests before the interests of others. Perhaps the best way of summing it up then is that I’m being selfish.
Easy then to rectify this position – put others first? But this in itself creates it’s own challenges. Why should I do it if others don’t? It’s not my job to pick up someone else’s rubbish, I’ll just wait until you’ve finished before I lock up the church, the list could go on and on… But what if I was to be a bit more proactive, so that these little conflicts didn’t actually arise? What if I made it my task to be the one to do the washing up, to put the rubbish in the bin – not only would the jobs be done, not only would it avoid any disagreements, but I would also be fulfilling Christ’s invitation to Love my Neighbour. That in itself is a gift of grace. Those are the chances that fall easily into our lives.
Opportunities fall to us every day to be able to live out the invitation of Loving God and Loving our Neighbour. Some of them are quite easy to accomplish, others are a bit more testing. How do I speak to somebody who is rude, with good grace? How do I deal with the bad driver who just cut me up, with good grace? How do I not show the loud group of youngsters I don’t like their noise or bad language, with good grace?
Perhaps another description of good grace would be the word tolerance? In a world that seems to lack tolerance, the secret to good grace is tolerance. To be able to deal with things the way that Christ invites us to, is the key to His grace coming into our life. In acting as Christ invites us, we enable others to also recognise and experience Him in their lives. In doing this His life and love spreads – think what a difference that makes to our world.
So then, it would appear the answer is whenever I feel resentful or challenged, I can ask myself, “How can I bring Christ to this time?” Doing this will help me do whatever with ‘good grace.’
P.S. I’m only known as Belinda when I’ve got my hands in the sink!
Deacon Ian Black