It’s not that I intentionally eavesdropped. The mother sat next to me on a bench in the mall playground. Her toddler was playing with a built-in wall puzzle. My granddaughters were climbing giant blocks, and jumping off the monstrous drum. I was resting from my long walk across the mall…and watching…the kids, the parents, the shoppers.
The “mother” encouraged her son as he walked atop the giant xylophone. “Red, blue, green, yellow…green, blue, red.” Each step he took, she called out the color. You get the picture. A few moments later she watched as he nudged his way between a wall-puzzle and a baby who could barely stand.
“No, no! Watch out for the baby!” she cautioned as she jumped up and went to the other side of the play area. She picked up her two-year-old, carried him back to her seat and softly said, “You must not push. Now you must sit a minute to remember not to push.” She hugged him close. Her gentle voice instructed. “Watch. See? Everyone is playing. They are sharing. You must share, too. If someone is playing with something you want, you do not push. If you are playing with something, and someone does not want to share with you, then you find something else to do.” Slowly she released her grip. “If you learn this lesson, you will avoid a lot of suffering in life.” He squirmed out of her lap. “…a lot of suffering,” she repeated as he scurried off to play again.
I wondered. Was she speaking from experience?
Do we avoid suffering by letting others have their way? by relinquishing that which we are interested in, playing with, or doing? Wise warning that we must not push…nor bully our way into another’s space. And we most definitely should share. But walk away when trouble comes our way? When another treats us less than we are taught to treat them? When they want what we have?
Perhaps that is a lot like turning the other cheek…
Or like going the second mile…or handing over our best cloak when someone asks for it. Or sacrificing ourselves for another–or for a better good–or simply to avoid suffering something far worse in life. I can hear the wisdom. Can you? If not, how’s this?
“Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.” Luke 6:30-31
Thank you, LORD, for this little bit of wisdom and picture of grace You reaffirmed in my mind today. Help me, LORD, to let go and not hold back the kindness you show the unlovely and the wicked. Let me live my life, not to escape suffering, but to avoid causing suffering for others.