Life can be messy sometimes. Sometimes we have to make space in our lives for things and people who are different than us. The quirky. The odd. The broken. The struggling. The “but for the grace of God go I” people who cross our path. Because underneath it all we are all the same – struggling with something ourselves and wishing we were better, and wanting to be known. Wouldn’t we want someone to take the time to offer us a cup of cold water…. or the gift of their time?
When a broken person crosses our path, we have the choice to either make space for them by jumping into the chaos with them, or passing them by. Obviously, that decision depends on where you are in life, and what kind of time you have to offer. But there is great joy found in helping someone who is broken come to life again.
God’s been convicting me lately about certain people who cross my path. I can be fairly kind and loving to others, but don’t tell anyone – I can also pretty righteous sometimes. I know…hard to believe, huh? NOT! There have been a handful of folk that I bump into in ministry that I just don’t want to bring myself to connect with because there is some trait or characteristic in them that makes me feel uncomfortable. So, I make the truly mature decision to avoid them. I’m not hurting anyone by doing that, am I? You know the type – faces that might hide pain or suffering, disabilities or disorders. Or they might be mega talented, or creative, over-sized or scrawny, a little needy, confident or bumbling. And why, for heavens sake, did they make me feel weird? Could it be possible that what made me uncomfortable with these folks is the reflection of myself – past or present – that I see in them? Oh Lord, you are up to something now!
We are all broken and needy. Our relationships with others around us are sometimes like a mirror to show us where we need fixing. When I taught school it was the kids in my class who were silly, and couldn’t focus, or wanted a lot of attention. Why….because that was the kid that I was. We sometimes see our own traits in others and want to run from them…or fix them….or tell them they need to change. Or you can go about it another way and love them, and value them, meet them right where they’re at. Maybe remind them that God is crazy about them just the way they are.
So I’ve been trying to be better at making time and space to love those people who rub me the wrong way. Validating them – stopping to talk with them which translates into letting them know that who they are and what they have to say is important. Ugh….I just hate it when God uses my own words to hold me accountable. It’s so disruptive.
Following Jesus can be disruptive. He can be a speed bump at times – slowing us down – sometimes making us stop to look at something we’ve not taken the time to think about. But I’m learning to listen better to who and what God intended me to be. Not bound by my misconceptions, but trying to be better at opening up and risking relationship with broken people just like me. Making space in my world for those that He might want me to care for….even if just for a season. So I’m going to fight for a soft heart and a right attitude and a kind spirit towards people who are different than me. Because wouldn’t I want you to do that for me? It’s not just making space for one of God’s beloved, it’s making space for grace.