After months of lockdown, we are opening up and I am amused and fascinated by what people are wanting most. “I need my hair done so badly”. “I want three families in my garden.” “I cannot wait to get to the holiday home”. “I want a meal in a restaurant.” I want a game of football.” “I just want to walk into a book shop and browse.”
If we have been watching and listening through this Coronavirus year then there are many things there for the learning. One is just how different that we all are.
We have all dealt with lockdown differently. Some of us have loved church on-line and some of us have hated it, longing for a gathering even with masks and no singing or fellowship. Some of us have played as loose with restrictions as we could, like bikers racing as close to the cliff as they can, while others were ultra cautious not even getting on the bike. Different. All different.
Jesus knew that everyone is different. He let Nicodemus come to him in the cloak of the night. He sat down with a Samaritan woman at a well in the heat of the day. He invited himself to Zacchaeus’s house for dinner. He gave a man his sight back but didn’t tell him who he was until much later. All different.
My life experience is that we humans are not good at understanding this or acting accordingly. We lazily think that we think everybody else thinks like us, will respond like us, emotionally react like us. We find it hard to understand when they see things differently or react differently.
I know that in communities and churches and families these differences have caused difficulties. All of our misunderstandings and relational friction is a result of not recognising that we are different.
We have all dealt with Coronavirus differently. We will all deal with coming out of it differently too. Like Jesus we need to see each other’s differences. We need to understand. We need to allow for it. We need to be patient and generous towards one another.
I am coming to believe that this is an act of love. That we need to stop to listen and watch and understand one another and allow the difference to live alongside us.
I am committing myself to a daily action, a daily discipline to climb out of my version of the world, my reactions, my responses, my perspectives. I need to cast off my intuitive idea that everybody reads the world like me.
Such a posture of humility and patience and grace is the very essence of Gospel, of God, of Jesus life, of the Kingdom. God is all about relationship and redeeming broken ones. Jesus was the word become flesh so that he could relate to us in our in all our foibles and eccentricities. The Holy Spirit gives us those things needed to understand the other and to love - “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”
In these next weeks as we find ourselves wonderfully exiting lockdown let us be alert to the different speeds and ways that we will and let us treat one another with the patience, mercy and grace to our differences.