A toddler, a house shaped like a maze, little sleep the night before, single-handedly running the household while Melissa was at a retreat and, oh yeah, church on Sunday. That was the formula that led me to one of those phone calls that parents of adult children must really enjoy getting. I called my mom. "Mom, they're making me crazy," I said. She laughed hysterically. I replayed the events to her. She laughed some more. When she finally caught her breath she said, "Honey, when you were little, you convinced me that God made toddlers cute so we don't eat our young." Her laughing continued... it was as though she had waited for this moment for 30 years. Turns out she had. I could not help but to laugh with her in the midst of all the chaos, I was grateful for the relief.
My mom's perspective was great, and she was right, they are pretty stinking cute. I got off the phone, looked at the kids and realized they were just doing what kids do when you fuel their rockets with chicken nuggets, apple juice, ice cream and pizza for three days. I started laughing until they thought I'd lost it, then we just wrestled on the floor.
When people live lives fueled off of tight schedules, endless work, congested traffic, self will and bills that pile up they are not always pleasant to be around. When I interact with such unfortunate folks (which I have certainly been one!) I try to take a moment and think about what God must be seeing. I know they are not "cute" any more, but I try to imagine the way God sees them. They are dearly loved 'children' no matter their age. God has compassion and mercy for them. They have flaws and still are deeply cherished by the God who crossed time and eternity to ensure anyone willing could have life with God now and in the life to come. Somehow, by God's Grace, I no longer see them as the enemy or as out of control adult brats. A little divine perspective helps us see others with compassion and mercy as we would hope they would see us on our less glorious days.
Eugene Peterson's translation of 1 John 4:20-21 captures the meaning of the text very well:
If anyone boasts, "I love God," and goes right on hating his brother or sister, thinking nothing of it, he is a liar. If he won't love the person he can see, how can he love the God he can't see? The command we have from Christ is blunt: Loving God includes loving people. You've got to love both.
In Christ with you,