12 “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:12
Imagine you woke up one morning and this was your day. As you move through this imaginative exercise pay attention to what emotions come up in each interaction.
Beep. Beep. BEEP! Time to get up. Another day. But you’re tired. You stayed up late last night getting school lunches ready and cleaning up the kitchen, because it’s easier getting things done around the house when kids are asleep. You groggily get ready for your day and your spouse asks you a question. Your snappy response causes raised eyebrows. But they give this reply, “You must be pretty tired after working hard last night getting things ready for the kids. I hope you can get some rest in your day.” After breakfast one of your kids offers a “thank you for the food” and proceeds to clear the table on their own.
On the drive to your doctor appointments you approach a four-way stop at about the same time as another vehicle. The other driver smiles and waves you on. As you enter the doctor’s office a stranger holds the door open for you and says a warm “good morning.” While you fill out paperwork, the nurse gifts you with a genuine compliment. Later you get a text from a friend saying they’ve been thinking about you and praying for you.
You stop by the grocery store; as you’re trying to get a toddler and a baby in your van and load up groceries, your toddler pukes all over themselves and you. Someone had just parked right next to you. Instead of merely asking “Do you need any help?,” they just do. They hand you wipes, load your groceries and take the cart to the corral. At home, a meal with a kind note is waiting for you. Your anger spills out on a child who has neglected chores, they embrace you and say “I love you. And I’m sorry.”
The dreaded thread pops again – a stream of messages with a family member you’ve been having a conflict with. You know the previous message you sent was filled with accusation and emotion. You read their simple reply: “I can see how you feel that way. That must have been really difficult for you.”
Your head hits the pillow and you remember these words from Romans 5:8: “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” So undeserving of how you were treated all day. And yet that’s how Jesus treated and treats us. Lavish love. Intentional love. For sinners.
Review how this imaginative exercise made you feel throughout “your day,” and go and do likewise. Help a stranger. Offer words of empathy. Choose to react in kindness to unkindness. Be generous. Isn’t that what you would like others to do for you?
By Ellen Rosenberger