The year 2013 was an awesome year, a gruesome year, a wonderful year, a chaotic year, a new beginning, a horrific ending, an enlightening experience, a torturous exploration and a most blessed year of the Lord. I know we suffered through way too many more examples of man’s inhumanity to man this past year but there were many examples of compassion and kindness all around us as well. And on my personal ledger of positives and negatives in 2013, my graph shows more positive than negative happening for me (I needed that). I pray the same was true for you but even if it wasn’t, my borrowed advice is to keep on living. We may be hurt (see blog six) or we may opt to keep it moving rather than taking the time to reflect. Whatever the case, at the end of the day (or year), we are blessed to still be among the living; granted more time to get it as close to right as we can – granted grace.
One of the things on the positive side of my ledger is this season of football. I have watched some marvelous games this season, on all levels. I even attended two college bowl games (thank you gentlemen). I marvel at the physical skill and mental toughness of players on the college and professional level and I just appreciate efficient teams. While I believe all sports teach disciple and require attention to detail, adherence to instruction and to following leadership when , football (and all the other team sports) requires and teaches more. One of the most prominent lessons is how to work on and within the framework of a team.
The dynamics of teamwork are fascinating and can be very delicate. There are team goals that override personal goals, desires and preferences. Everyone, particularly on the professional level, is capable and accomplished. Every teammate, in theory at least, is able to perform their given tasks. In the course of this, being a good teammate sometimes means you have to let things go in order to preserve team-peace and preserve relationships. Sometimes it is better to just be encouraging or to be quiet rather than to risk fracturing a relationship; it is not necessary for teammates to point out blunders or errors. In the spiritual realm, it is called extending grace.
When I was working for the phone company, there was a cleaning lady I would talk to on the days I worked late. I tried hard not to be visibly surprised by anything she said to me about her life or her philosophies. One day she was telling me about a crime that had been committed in her neighborhood and she said “the crime is really getting bad and it’s not just the blacks”. I willed my face to remain blank and I simply said, “Yes ma’am, all races are committing crimes.” In her mind, she was connecting with me and there was no need for me to wreck the connection; we were teammates with different functions. I would have gained nothing by arguing with her and being the little uppity black girl-engineer that worked in the cubicle off the north window. As Christians, we are called to be better!
Until I can give tangible gifts like Ellen DeGeneres, Dr. Patrick Angelo of Chicago or like the man who assisted Abigail Sailor with her educational endeavors, I can give grace. That is my goal for 2014; to extend more grace. Building relationships can draw people into God’s Kingdom. The extension of grace can win others to the side of Christ. On the flip, damaging a relationship, by being right or being unyielding, serves no positive, eternal purpose. With regards to eternity, I want my personal ledger to show my graph with a lot more positive than negative. Micah 6:8 is always the guide: “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy (grace) and to walk humbly with your God.” Be about that life in 2014.