Sometimes people surprise me.
On the evening before Christmas Eve, I was forced against my will to make an unexpected trip to the worst place on earth. (OK – that might be a bit of an exaggeration. BUT Walmart is typically not a pleasant place to be; always busy, noisy, dirty and too big! I avoid it as much as possible!) It was raining and dreary, the parking lot was full. I sat in my car and took a deep breath, preparing for the pushy crowds and growly checkers.
I run to the building, dodging cars and muddy puddles. A gentleman is standing at the door, flashes a big grin and holds the door open for me. I see another young man help an older woman catch her step on the slippery flooring. A couple smiles at me as they allow me to pass beside them. There is no line to pay – the checker gives a genuine smile and wishes me a Merry Christmas.
I exit the store, confused and surprised. I felt like my mood had actually improved after this unplanned trek into last minute Christmas shopping chaos! Shocking! I expected the worst from people, and found only kindness and generosity.
Sometimes my own kids surprise me. On Christmas morning it was time to place baby Jesus on the Little People nativity. I sent my son downstairs to help his little sister complete the scene. To be honest, I expected an argument – back and forth whining about who gets to put Jesus up, followed by that tattling yell of “MOM!” But no! My son let his sister take that coveted role. It became a touching sibling moment honoring the real meaning of that day; Jesus, the true gift of Christmas.
But sometimes people surprise me and the result is not so positive. Sometimes you think a person you know has reached rock bottom and couldn’t possibly cause the people they love any more harm. And then they do. Sometimes you expect certain people around you to always be positive and in control – and then they aren’t.
Humans are complicated; relationships are messy, and in extreme circumstances there is no positive to be found. But in most cases, and certainly in our average daily life, people might actually surprise us and act like decent human beings! And we are more likely to see this in action each day if we give that same love and respect to others.
If we expect people to be rude and nasty, we’ll probably encounter those people – worse, we might even become those people! But if we’re looking for good, we just might find that people actually do love and respect others. If we constantly seek good in those around us, maybe there will be fewer surprises!
“Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace;” 1 Peter 4:8-10