My mom was visiting from another state. Because of this, I had the whole day planned out. We’d take bike rides (she loves biking), via the scenic route and then stop off at a waterside hotel. The day would be perfect, or so I thought…
Finally, the special day arrived. Mom and I sat down at the waterfront restaurant. Although we only had a limited amount of time to eat, because she was flying out soon, we thought we could make the restaurant work.
The waitress approached and, in summary, said, “It is an issue you all are here. We don’t open until later. I could see if they could get you some food, but you really have to tell me what it is you want. What sandwiches would you want?”
We told her the options we were interested in.
“What about something less difficult? A salad?”
We gave her a few more options.
She went on, “I really need to know what you want because it is going to take me about 10 minutes to walk up three flights of stairs to get an answer from the chefs on this. And they just finished up making breakfast. And they may need to know which things you want so we can figure out what you can have and what you can’t.”
With every unleashed detail of her backstory, the more I felt like a burden. I wish we weren’t here. Maybe we should just go. She seems frustrated. I don’t want to cause an issue.
Yet, as she continued on…I started to think of how I often am just like her. If I have a hard day, I tend to tell my husband the hundred and one things that led up to it. If I’m talking with a friend and want to share an issue, I also convey the nitty gritty annoyances that were included in it, even if it takes a while to convey.
Yet, I don’t believe grace talks like the waitress or I tend do. Grace doesn’t unleash every negative line, every belabored detail, every issue, every complaint, every trauma. Grace considers the ear of the listener. It is a blessing to the hearer, rather than a drain on them.
This doesn’t mean that the tough-stuff didn’t happen (the 3 flights of stairs, the 10-minute walk, the little hiccups during the day); it means love chooses to leave the person feeling built-up, rather than bummed-out after the talk.
How? You ask yourself 3 things before you talk:
1. Will it profit the listener if I speak this?
2. Would Jesus talk like this?
3. Do my words honor God?
I don’t point out the waitress to judge her, but to learn a little bit more of how I act myself. I’m learning: Words of grace often don’t include every painful detail. They get to the heart of the story in a way that still honors and uplifts the listener, at almost all costs.
“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” – Eph. 4:29