Yesterday I met a friend for coffee.
This is one of the great bonuses of having my son home from college. He needs money. I need time. My girls need activity. So off they went to Monkey Joes- a crazy indoor playground that is the delight to many a child and the cause of many a head throb to over-holidayed moms.
Not that I was feeling like I needed a break from all the family togetherness.
But my friend needed me.
Thank the sweet heavens above my friend needed me and offered to buy me a coffee.
So, we met and chatted. We processed a situation I wish we didn’t have to process- mean people.
I know I should say that people aren’t mean. Just sometimes people do mean things. And I know there are always two sides to every story. Glory be do I ever realize there are two sides. But during the holidays when nice is usually served up in high fashion, even the slightest meanness can seem really huge.
And knowing my friend spent way too many days crying during these holidays made me sad. For her. For them. For the reality that we Christians can be mean sometimes. We can be sharp and cutting and too tired to find the right words.
Last week I got an e-mail from someone who was too tired to find the right words. I still don’t understand what caused her to be in such a tiff. And though I made my fingers type words back to her that were gentle and graceful, I will admit that what I really wanted to do was get in her face and tell her a thing or two. Boy did I have the perfect comeback. Because I can be mean. Just like those people that hurt my friend.
We are all more alike than we’d care to admit.
And not that I want to wax philosophical on this Tuesday morning, but I here I go anyhow.
There’s a bucket inside each heart where hurts are dumped. Little hurts, big hurts, past hurts- they all get dumped into this slop bucket. We think we’re fine because the hurts are contained. We think we’ve dealt with the hurts because they aren’t rising to the surface that often. But then someone comes along and kicks that slop bucket with a mean word or two and it spills over.
Sloshing. Spilling. Leaking. Staining. And every word we speak in response carries some of what’s in our slop bucket.
So here’s the thing.
Slop can be good if it’s been turned into compassion. Some people have let Jesus touch their slop mixing in mercy, grace, forgiveness, and a love that reaches just beyond what we’re capable of on our own.
But too many of us have let our slop bucket sit and ferment in pride, resistance, my right to be right, and bitterness that cuts off our potential to grow into the woman we’re designed to become. So, instead of compassion, the harshest judgement drips out with each of our words.
Compassion. Judgement. The reality that every Jesus girl has a slop bucket.
These are good things to think about over coffee when you’ve sent your kids to Monkey Joes.