"I'll take a water with lemon, but wait, can you wash the lemon?"
"Ok, I know exactly what I want. It's between a chocolate chip cookie and a peanut butter cookie."
"Wait. Come back to me. I still don't know what I want."
"Can you bring my salad with my dinner instead of before?"
"I'll take my salad before. And can you add some shredded chicken on top of it? Your chicken salad has too much stuff in it for me."
The eight of us were quite a handful for our young waitress (she did great, by the way). Between our crazy requests and two of us doing our best impersonation of Munchkinland's Lollipop Guild representatives from the Wizard of Oz, I'm surprised she didn't lose her mind.
"Who has more fun than us?"
Not many. We'd just come from a Cursillo planning meeting (email me if you want to know more about Cursillo), and we were pretty pumped up. Working for the Lord has that effect on me--on all of us. We are business when we have to be business, but once the meeting is over, we spend the next hour or so telling stories, regurgitating movie lines, poking fun at each other's strange ordering habits (wash the lemon???), and laughing, laughing, laughing.
We felt many eyes on us as we carried on, especially when we stopped to join hands and pray as our food came. Silently in our hearts we prayed for each of them--that in their hearts they get to know the joy of the Lord the way we do.
That's not to say that we don't but heads once in a while. When people are passionate about their beliefs, they will defend them--loudly, and sometimes mercilessly. And in an organization that is as tightly knit as ours, feelings get trampled. It happens because we are human, and susceptible to the effects sin. The human factor is both the greatest strength and the greatest liability of ministry.
Letting go of these hurts, especially at the hands of people we consider family, is much more than necessary. It's what Christ commands us: "As I have loved you, so you also should love one another." (Jn 13:34) Notice Jesus didn't say, "but wait until you've gotten over your feelings." Pulling our loved ones close to us once again, AFTER we are hurt, is a requirement of discipleship...and "requirement" doesn't quite cover it. It takes something that every one of us at that table the other night work very hard to maintain in our lives: Humility.
Just last night, my good friend Laurie said to a group of us something very profound. She said that being humble doesn't mean "thinking less of yourself"; it means "being freed from thinking of yourself at all". Christ's perfect humility is what enabled Him to carry that cross. Christ's perfect humility is what enabled Him to say, "Father, forgive them." Its why God Himself bent down and did the most menial of things-washed His Apostles' feet. It's why He returned to the ones who ran, hid, even deined knowing him, in order to continue what He started in them.
Sadly, humility isn't really recognized in this culture as a virtue. It's the reason that I believe the concept of Love has been so grossly distorted. We have been conditioned to believe that "Love" is a feeling we get, and something of which we are a worthy object. If a person is giving me what I want and making me feel a certain way, then I love them.
This phrase is etched in our society's vocabulary, and it doesn't even make sense! We love. We are a lover. We are loved. Do we even recognize that LOVE is a VERB? Verbs are actions WE do. I love someone when I am the one giving; when I am the one doing. Since we have no idea as a society what love really is, "loving one another" is a concept slipping into obscurity.
But not among that group around the dinner table the other night. We have been through a lot together, and have seen from bad to the worst in each other. We have even been hurt at one point or another by each other, whether directly or indirectly; intentionally or unintentionally. Don't get me wrong, we feel the pain, and as sinning human beings sometimes just can't get past ourselves right away. But as we continue to practice humility, we are able to let all of that go. That was the source of our joy--knowing that it's in the act of forgiving that we get past our feelings and truly love one another as the Lord intends.