Bearing With One Another in Love
Hardship has a way of making us hard. Difficult times can make us difficult. Life’s irritations often make us irritable. If you have ever spent the day traveling in a crowded vehicle, you know the longer the trip, the shorter our patience. It’s a rare person for whom stress and anxiety bring out the best.
I once heard someone tell the story of something that happened at the New Orleans airport. Things were crowded that day as folks filled the terminals and baggage check-in lines. This was shortly after 9/11/01 and most airports were struggling with the new security protocols. Lines grew long and tempers flared. Then the unthinkable occurred: weather induced flight delays. The announcement of the interruption reverberated up and down the corridors of the airport. The frustrated murmuring behind the velveted rope wait lines bubbled like a pot on a stove. The situation was tense and frustrating for 30 minutes with no signs of progress.
That’s when a fellow stranded passenger stood on a plastic airport chair and asked for everyone’s attention. “Hey everybody! My name is Tom. I know everyone is aggravated. I am disappointed also because just like all of you, my flight has been delayed. But let’s remember, it is not the fault of the employees of the airport. They are working super hard to get us where we need to go. Let’s not forget that we have jobs also and sometimes things don’t go well for us either.” Everyone around the terminal looked at one another and nodded in agreement. It was as if everyone was just now remembering the reality of what Tom said.
Then Tom said, “To help everyone get through this, I asked the nice folks in one of the restaurants to bring you all a soft drink or an ice tea. No charge, it’s on me.” The place erupted with applause and smiles broke out all around. Laughter started in all directions. The temperature in the room dropped by 10 degrees. Everything changed after Tom’s announcement and the dozens and dozens of beverages he bought.
Life is stressful for most people right now. Rather than stewing in aggravation, let’s remember the words of the Apostle Paul, writing from PRISON of all places:
As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.
In times of high stress and low tolerance, bring extra-large doses of humility, gentleness, patience and love. Be a thermostat and not just a thermometer. Be the instigator of smiles and not just an instigator.