Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Ephesians 4:2 NIV
My 2013 Jeep Patriot is going in for round three. My prayer life is rounding the bases for the third lap of intimacy. My patience will be tried one more time, and my heart will now live outside my body - beating late into the nights on unknown streets. What is this foolishness you ask? My third child will be learning how to drive a manual transmission- a “stick”, as us old-timers call it. Surely, there will be stalls and bucking, going too fast around turns, and too slow on the highways. The inevitable stall on a hill and having to restart, again, while the light turns from green to red.
I get so nervous when people are following so close behind my emerging driver. What if I were to post a sign on the rear windshield: “Sorry, I am learning to drive a stick”.
With one alert, I can sense others entering in and sharing in our experience. I can imagine others remembering, a smile playing at their lips, when they learned to drive a clutch. I can feel the comradery of those that have passed this way before, now rooting for my son to get that license and emerge victorious. Aggravation turns to a gentle patience.
Maybe we all hold a secret sign, something that we are privately walking through. What if we wore our signs for others to see?
Sorry, I just lost a parent.
Sorry, I am recently divorced.
Sorry, I was just diagnosed with cancer.
Sorry, we can’t make our mortgage payment.
Sorry, I can’t beat this addiction.
Sorry, I have lost a child.
Sorry, I want to commit suicide.
When we can’t read another’s sign, we tend to get right up on their bumper and crowd them with judgment because they aren’t responding to the world as we need them to. Maybe they are too slow, maybe they keep sliding back down the hill, maybe they can’t get moving, maybe they keep bucking and fighting, maybe they have finally given up.
Would it be different if others could recognize our struggle? Would others share their stories? Would comradery outweigh criticism and contempt?
Ephesians reminds us to be humble and gentle with each other.
Gentleness is defined as: having or showing a mild, kind, or tender temperament or character.
Humbleness is defined as: not arrogant or assertive
Paul reminds us to be patient – with yourself and with others. Patience is defined as: the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.
And lastly, he tells us to bear each other in love. To “bear” means to hold up, support, to produce by natural growth.
Paul tells us, in Ephesians, that we are to navigate through our relationships with a gentle, quiet, supportive manner that fosters growth. We don’t know what others are walking through, but we can recognize the hurting and the hopeless. We can recognize when we are in over our heads and need others to share their wisdom and their testimonies. We are all in this together, on similar journeys with different timelines.
Can you pull up alongside someone today, and see if there is more to their story than meets the eye? With a smile playing at your lips, maybe you could share how you learned to navigate a similar situation?
Jesus, Help us to be peacemakers. Help us to always react with love and compassion. In Your Name, Amen.