Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Sometimes we get this lesson of being kind and compassionate in the most unexpected places. I was in the grocery store recently just prior to what the local weathermen were predicting to be a three day winter freeze with possible sleet and snow and icy conditions and temperatures in the teens. Central Texans are not accustomed to this wintery weather.
So, the grocery store was packed with shoppers trying to make sure they had all the food and necessities they would need for a possible three or four days at home. When I went to check out every checkout line had 12 to 15 people lined up trying to get their food home before the winter storm moved in on us.
There was only one cashier stand unattended and all the others were sporting a long line of customers waiting to check out. Then a cashier came and opened up the unattended station. Two people in front of me made a dash for the possibility of getting checked out more quickly, there.
There was a woman with a full basket in the lead, and an angry man with a full basket immediately behind her. He ran past her and squeezed in just in front of her. She said, “Excuse me sir.” He turned around and blurted out a curse word at her. Then he backed up and waved her to go ahead in front of him. I could see that he was shaking with anger.
It seemed that she was overcome with compassion and forgiveness at that moment instead of being angry at him. She turned and faced him and calmly said, “I am so sorry that I upset you.” I could see an instant change in his demeaner.
He made eye contact with her and said, “Please, forgive me. I’m sorry too. I should not have pushed myself in front of you like that.” The lady smiled and said, “You know if you are pressed for time and need to go ahead of me, it’s okay. Please go ahead.” He smiled and said, “No, Please proceed with your checkout. I was behind you in line.”
When she told him that she was sorry to have upset him that immediately calmed him and helped him realize what he had done. It was a simple but great example of loving your neighbor that rang a bell with me and some of the other shoppers in the line. Her sensitivity to his emotional state, and her kindness in the midst of his storm of unpleasant behavior had changed a spiteful and angry situation into an example of compassion and forgiveness.
This example has helped me realize that kindness, compassion, and forgiveness are needed in every place of our lives. We have been forgiven by Christ and that same gentleness and sensitivity is needed with all of our relationships. God calls us to love one another just as he loves us.
- Where have you seen a Christlike kindness expressed in common everyday interactions?
- What action can you take today to express this Christlike compassion and forgiveness to someone who has recently been unkind to you?
Sue is NLS Spiritual Director, since 2019 and is a retired Lutheran Pastor (ELCA). Active in VdC since 1995, she has served two terms on the Board of the Texas VdC Secretariat, and also on the Texas Gulf Coast VdC Board as Spiritual Director since its start-up in 2017.