If you read my last post just before Christmas, “Seeing the Blessings on Life’s Twisty Road” (part 1 of this 2-part series), you know I recommend the Daily Examen as a way of reviewing each day for indications of grace.
It works for me.
And now that we’ve entered 2020, I’m encountering more and more gifts in this review process.
Having done broader Examens of the last year, I’m seeing that my ‘reads’ of people are often incorrect. In other words, I am oblivious to what others are really thinking. I assume that all is well when in fact others have opinions – strong likes and dislikes – of which I am unaware – or worse yet, that I’m choosing to ignore. Sometimes at the peril of my relationship with them.
But rather than go ‘deep’ here and tell you a serious story, I’ll give you a fairly lighthearted example from my marriage and you can extrapolate for your own life, however much that might be helpful.
Recently, our vacuum cleaner broke. It was a Sears canister-style model we had for about 8 years – a sleek blue, with a retractable cord, internal bags I replaced when full, and a cool orange indicator light on the handle that told me when the carpet was really dirty (and it was – all the time!!). I liked it, despite the fact that the cord stopped winding and I had to use a wrench to keep it extended; despite the fact that I was constantly buying bags; and despite the fact that the contraption was HEAVY and unwieldy with its 2 segments.
When the motor finally quit my husband practically leapt for joy.
“THANK GOD!! I HATE that thing,” he said with no shortage of enthusiasm.
I was shocked. And taken aback.
I had picked it out myself and didn’t realize the depth of his dislike.
The truth was, I guess somewhere in the recesses of my mind I knew he didn’t like it. I just didn’t really care. His feelings on the matter weren’t important enough to me. And when the truth came out, I had to accept my culpability.
He pointed out that the dead vacuum was quite large and always lying around, just waiting to trip someone.
We got a light, upright model. One he picked out and that I agreed was a great choice.
And when it arrived, he stood it up in the middle of the family room. Then he looked over at me and said,
“If you ever miss the old one, you can just do this.”
Then he lay it on its side so that it became an awkward obstacle in the middle of the room, stepped over it, and walked away.
I laughed until my sides hurt.
We are never too old to have a ‘learning’ moment, and this was one for me.
Too often, we assume we know what’s best and we don’t take others into account.
So – here are a few questions for the new year and each day as you walk through it, one by one:
- Where was grace shown to me today?
- Where did another person (or people) accommodate me? Tolerate me? And did I truly consider that person’s wishes?
- Do I try to see situations from others’ points of view? Do I ask directly for their insights?
- Do I modify my behavior after hearing what people I care about tell me?
- Can I smile and laugh when there’s a disconnect, instead of letting it blow up into a bigger problem?
- Am I showing grace, or pushing my own agenda?
May we all have a blessed 2020.