In my previous appointment I would preach around every 8 – 12 weeks. After the worship service I’d stand “out back” and greet the folks as they’d leave (much like what West used to look like! Ha!) Since I didn’t preach every week, I always considered it a cool opportunity to be able to greet those present in worship. It was something that I’d look forward to as a part of the preaching experience.
Forever etched in my mind is a particular Sunday when a lady was leaving and she refused to shake my hand. Not only would she not shake my hand, she wouldn’t look at me. As she passed by, she very intentionally turned her head away from me, made a “humph” sound, and walked out the door. Having no clue what that was about I followed her.
“Amy, hey! What’s wrong? Have I done something to upset you?” (I’ve changed the name, and no – it isn’t Amy Coles! :-)!)
“Never-mind!” she replied.
“Look, we don’t have a ton of time, but it isn’t like you to ignore me or frankly, make a sound as you walk by me like you are ticked off at me. So if I’ve done something let’s find a time to sit down and talk about it.”
She told me she didn’t know about that and walked away.
Because disappointing people is not on my “Top 10” of favorite things to do, that weighed heavy on my mind the next two worship services. I’d not seen her in awhile so what in the world could I have done to make her so upset with me.
On my way home I called her because I wanted to figure out what in the world was going on.
“How could you treat me that way?” was the way she began the conversation.
“What way? We’ve not seen each other in several weeks, how have I treated you any way?”
“Before the service started you came out into the congregation and were greeting people. I watched you. You went to everyone on the right side of the chapel but you never came to me.”
I was speechless . . . so she literally watched me greet everyone on one side of the chapel and then got mad because I missed speaking to her? And – she stewed on that the entire worship service so by the time worship was over, she had significant anger towards me.
Luckily, though, my brain kicked in gear before my mouth did. I realized that her anger was really disappointment and hurt. By my missing speaking to her it communicated that I didn’t care. I explained that as I got to the front of the chapel (where she was sitting) I’d noticed the time. In typical Andrea fashion, I was late. I’d lost track of time and had 1 minute (literally) to put my robe/stole on and be ready for the processional . So I basically ran to the sacristy to get ready. Yet in doing so it appeared I ignored her.
While my actions certainly could have been different, something else could have been too.
She had expectations of what I was going to do.
Because I didn’t meet those expectations she became angry.
That’s a pretty innocuous story to make that point that if we aren’t careful, our expectations will lead us on pathways to negativity, anger, and disappointment.
If you study the life of Christ I think you’ll find that the folks that had the most “ick” with him were the ones that “expected” things.
The ones most impacted by his love were the ones who went into the relationship with him with humility and open-mindedness.
“Help we walk again.”
“Help me see.”
“Help me be loved.”
What if the next time we are angry because someone has missed our expectations we stop and ask ourselves what could WE do differently in the relationship so that there is peace?
May we be open-minded towards one another!
It’s a game changer.
1 John 3:17 ESV
But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?