A friend of mine brought me a party on Thursday. She brought cookies, pink polka dot napkins, a Lolaloopsy cup with a striped straw (for the milk to go with my cookies), a princess tiara, and some Mardi Gras beads to dress me up.
She didn’t bring me a party because it was my birthday or a celebration of any kind. She brought them because I was at the end of my rope. She brought them because God knew I needed them. She brought them because she couldn’t fix the rest of my problems, but she could give me a party.
Last week was a rough week. I had an injured daughter, I hurt my fingers, I screwed up a work project, and my injured daughter got sick. To top it off, my rheumatoid arthritis decided to make its presence known in a whole new way.
I don’t write much about living with a chronic disease. There’s not much to tell. There are good days and bad days, and you simply learn to enjoy the good ones and soldier on through the bad ones. Except last week, I had reached my limit of soldiering on when the drug I take to control arthritis caused my skin to erupt in a nasty, scaly rash.
Living with a chronic illness day in, day out is tough. I was not a nice person last week. My kids asked me several times why I was so grumpy. I probably snapped at people I shouldn’t have and gave my husband less than he deserved. Luckily, my family and friends offered me grace. They even showed up with cookies.
And that’s what I want to talk about today, why I’m sharing this particular struggle when I don’t often share – grace. We could all use more of it because there are days when a friend or family member is simply not themselves. And we’re quick to judge. Instead of seeing through the mask to the hurt, we focus on how that person acted toward us. We make it about us, not them.
The truth is, though, that most of the time, it’s not about us. We can’t see behind the curtain into someone else’s life. We have no idea what’s going on behind that smiling face she shows to the world.
People look at me and see a relatively healthy person. Someone I’ve known for years told me the other day that she never knew I had arthritis. Because that’s not the face I present to the world.
The lesson, here, is not that everyone has an illness they’re dealing with, but everyone has something. Everyone hits a bump in the road sometime. And when they do, we need to be the hands and feet of Jesus. We need to look beyond the crankiness, beyond the frustration, beyond the strained smiling face to see the hurt behind them.
We need to offer grace. We need to offer kindness. We need to offer help. Because that’s what Jesus would do.
Jesus would be looking past the outward actions and standing on my doorstep with cookies and a Lolaloopsy cup for the milk. Because sometimes that’s what love and grace look like.
Who needs you to offer them grace today?