one small step?

        The worst kind of enemy is the one who used to be your friend. Sometimes it happens overnight, but usually you walk away from each other so slowly that you hardly even notice. It's easy to do. You just pay close attention to what you don't like about her, and you ignore what you do like. Before you know it, she'll be so thin and so far away that you'll hardly be able to see her. That's why, every single day, you have to be so careful to take at least one small step in the right direction, before the fog closes in.

"To love someone means to see him as God intended him." Fyodor Dostoevsky 

empty pockets

        We step on each other's toes a lot. Almost every day, you get a few more I-can't-believe-she-did-(or-didn't-do)-thats to add to your collection. It's tempting to carry them around with you, so you can take them out and relive them whenever you have a little free time, but that's hard work. They're a lot heavier than they look. It's much easier to empty your pockets every once in a while, so you can get some rest.

"I distinctly remember forgetting that." Clara Barton, when asked about somebody mistreating her

"Forgive (lit., release), and you will be forgiven (lit., released)." Luke 6:37

the golden rule

        Remember the golden rule -- treat other people the way you want them to treat you? I heard it a lot in school when I was growing up, but that was a long time ago, before we outgrew it and traded it in for the me-first rule. That was one sad trade. The me-first rule is such hard work compared with the quiet, old-fashioned rule that says I'm going to give you a break today, whether you deserve it or not, because that's how I'd like you to treat me. I wouldn't want you to carry around a list of all my shortcomings and misdeeds and failures today, so I won't carry yours around. When I pick up my wallet and my cell phone this morning, I'll just leave that dog-eared list on top of my dresser. I bet I'll have an extra skip in my step today. Miracles do that sort of thing.

"Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions; remember me instead according to Your lovingkindness. . . ." Ps. 25:7.

get out of jail free

        Is there somebody who needs a fresh start with you today? It might be just an acquaintance, or it might be somebody at lot closer than that who somehow, little by little, has become an intimate enemy. Either way, offering her a fresh start won't be easy. You probably have a long list of wrongs and hurts and short-comings and disappointments that prove she doesn't deserve a fresh start, and you're probably right. Fresh starts are all about grace, and nobody (including you) ever deserves grace. It's free, and that's what makes it so outrageous. It reduces all your no-fair, tit-for-tat thinking to a pile of dust. It gives the other person a get-out-of-jail-free card. And here's the surprise -- you get one, too.

"Ah, what a thing is man devoid of grace!"                                      George Herbert

"Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, acting in grace toward each other, just as God in Christ acted in grace toward you." Eph. 4:32.


        You’ve probably been around people in fairly close quarters these past few days.   And chances are at least one of them let you down – he didn’t appreciate what you did for him or he said something hurtful in front of other people or he got a laugh at your expense . . . or worse.  If so, you have a choice.  You can either water and fertilize the little sprouts of bitterness and resentment (as in, “poor-me-I-deserve-more-and-I-never-liked-him-anyway”), or you can roll up your sleeves and do some weeding before the poison spreads.  Weeding is hard work, but it sure saves you a whole lot of trouble down the road.

new every morning?

        Every morning, I get a fresh start.  No matter how much I messed up yesterday, I can wake up to a fresh start -- a clean slate, a brand new chance.  I don’t have to crawl around under the weight of yesterday’s wrongs.  I don’t have to dig myself out of that hole.  That’s stunningly good news, but it raises a huge and hard question: what about the person who wronged me yesterday (and maybe many yesterdays)?  When I think about her over my morning coffee, am I going to rehearse and hold on to the litany of her wrongs, or am I willing to give her the same gift I enjoy -- a fresh start, as if yesterday’s wrongs never happened?  If I am, we both win.

“His compassions never fail.  They are new every morning. . . .” Lam. 3:22-23.