I was thinking about a powerful lesson I was taught years ago by an old man. I was about 18. I had all the answers in life. Most of them anyway. In short, I knew how things were to be done, dammit! As I watched this old man with my keen, critical eyes, he was not measuring up.
You see, he was coleading an informal meeting. He was often tardy by 5, sometimes even 10 minutes. After a week or two of this, I made it known, in front of everyone, that his tardiness was not acceptable, and that we deserved more respect. I was far from polite.
From a hushed silence in the room, the man thanked me, apologized to the group, and assured everyone that he would do better. Feeling justified and celebrating in my self righteousness for having stood up to such a neglect of respect, I proceeded with my day.
After the meeting, the man approached me. He smiled and shook my hand and asked this question with no malice or sarcasm, but with deep concern for me: Don’t you know that you’re supposed to pray for people that you have resentment towards?
I don’t recall my response, but he moved on asking me about my music (he knew I was a musician), and then proceeded to tell me his passion for classical music. He even brought me several CDs of Bach, Beethoven, Mozart as gifts the next time I saw him.
I never knew why he was late. He could have had to drop his wife off for chemotherapy for all I know. What I do know is that his offer of grace, compassion, and friendship crushed his enemy – me. I didn’t realize the profound impact of his actions until much, much later (like 20 years later). Despite my lack of comprehension, he became my friend. From that point on he couldn’t get rid of me.
Thanks for reading,
~ Ted Olson