We were playing at the pool at my sister’s house. Her youngest son, Jake had been throwing the nerf football back and forth over the pool with me. At one point I threw it and it landed in the pool. Jake shrugged it off, squeezed the ball to extract as much water as he could, and we continued. It was a little more difficult now as the ball had added a few pounds due to the water he was unable to squeeze out. At one point his dog was sprinting back and forth and around the pool chasing the ball that we were throwing. It was sort of an unintentional game of keep away. Finally, as we noticed the dog’s tongue dragging the ground and our arms getting a little tired, we decided to end our game of catch. At this point Jake turned and punted the nerf ball away from the pool. The ball made an odd squishy thud sound coming off his foot and arced skyward away from the pool and toward some parked cars. One of those cars was our family van. The ball zeroed in on the windshield of our van and sure enough, SPLAT!!!! Almost dead center. But, it was a nerf. No big deal. Or so we thought. About an hour later we got into the van to go celebrate my sister’s birthday at a Mexican restaurant. Oh my! There was a HUGE spider-webbing series of cracks stretching across the entire windshield. We were shocked. We couldn’t believe that a nerf ball could do so much damage. But, sure enough, in the middle of the series of cracks we could see the outline of a football.
We went on to dinner without telling Jake, then brought him outside to show him the damage his punt had done. He was so sorry. I knew he was sorry and that he didn’t mean to destroy my windshield. So, I was happy to forgive him and move on. Still, there was real damage done that would involve getting my windshield repaired. Jake and his dad, my really cool bro-in-law Stacy, knew this and offered to pay whatever it cost to get it fixed. Fortunately, we had insurance and our out-of-pocket was only $100.
As I’ve thought about this incident I see some parallels to some of today’s issues as we as a nation grapple with the reality of racial inequities and how to make sure we live in a society where justice and opportunity are afforded every person regardless of skin color. Unfortunately, as in any human interaction the current conversation is rife with misunderstanding and oftentimes hurt, anger, and frustration from well-meaning people who have differing perspectives on things.
When Jake punted that ball he had no idea that the weight of the ball could potentially do great damage to my car. I’ve known Jacob Norwood since he was born. I know about his character. It was easy for me to see that he had no intention of damaging my vehicle. Many times in conversation, or even in social media posts, etc. people may have a very different opinion of an issue than me. The person may have no idea that their opinion or view is very weighty to me as I am personally affected by and emotionally invested in the issue. So, what may have seemed like an innocent nerf ball comment by the person comes crashing into the windshield of my heart and mind. At this point, I am confronted by a choice. To I assume that this person is a bad man and assign motives to him. Or, do I assume, like I did with Jake, that it was an innocent mistake due to a misunderstanding of the weightiness of the issue? My challenge to all of my brothers and sisters who call Christ their Lord, is to consider the weightiness of a matter before posting or responding. Secondly, that we would presume that the person with whom we disagree has good intentions until proven otherwise.
For us to make progress on racial harmony and unity as a society and even more so as the church, we must be able to listen without immediately making a judgement on those with whom we speak. God enable us to listen and love even with those with whom we disagree. Differing policy opinions and even ignorance isn’t a reason to judge our brothers and sisters. In Paul’s letter to the Philippians he said:
Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? 2 Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.
3 Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. 4 Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. (Phil. 2:1-4)
This is our calling. We can be difference makers by listening, loving, working together, and considering others more important than ourselves.
God Bless and have a great week!
Each day we go into the world with the opportunity to make an impact. Each person whose paths cross ours matters. Lives intersect for a reason. I believe there is One who directs our steps to these sometimes seemingly random meetings. My goal for these encounters is that I make a difference. That is my desire for those who venture across my blog. I hope you are blessed and it makes a difference for you.