Do you know what is one of the most refreshing things in the world to receive, and yet one of the most difficult to give? It’s what you see when a parent painstakingly teaches their child a basic skill in life without giving up. Or when a person assumes the best of another, even when they’ve been hurt. Or when a new hire is doing their best to learn on the job and a customer smiles and reassures them as the employee’s anxiety begins to get the better of them.
We’ve all received patience. We’ve all seen patience. We’ve all been asked for patience. It’s something that keeps society running smoothly while avoiding the chaos that ensues when human emotion gets the best of us.
As I sat in the office this morning, beginning the week’s routines and stepping into the responsibilities that I have been so blessed with by this community, faces of those within our congregation who have loved me and been patient with me have entered my mind. I’m filled with gratitude as I notice the hearts of those who love me without reservation, even when I make mistakes, and an even greater gratitude towards God for blessing me so greatly when I have days I wonder if there’s anyone who deserves less patience than myself. God is so good.
Amy and I recently watched the movie, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, which captured a glimpse of the wonderful man that Fred Rogers was. There is a scene that takes place in a restaurant in which the main character finally shares how broken he is, and Mr. Rogers tells him that he does not believe he is broken. Even those qualities that often get him in trouble are incredibly redeemable and he has them because of the painful circumstances in his life. Then Mr. Rogers asks him to take part in an exercise in which they think of those who “loved [them] into being” for a full 60 seconds. And that they did. Emotion and closure take hold of the main character who was so hardened up until this point.
This is what God blessed me with this morning. I am a terribly imperfect human being, and yet He loves me perfectly and sacrificially – so full of grace. And there are countless in my life, some of which are in this congregation, who have been patient with me and shown me grace in ways that I don’t deserve. Where many would wish for a perfect pastor, I have received patience. Where many would (and perhaps rightfully so in a worldly/professional sense) hold these over my head, they have befriended me and accepted me as a person who is flawed, but is flaw-fully pursuing my God nonetheless. Where my own wife could hold every underwhelming quality of mine and every overwhelming moment of humanity against me, she builds me up.
Where there have been burdens, they have helped me shrug them off. Where there have been idols, they have helped me release them. Where there have been all kinds of imperfections and logs in my own eye, this cloud of witnesses has preached the Gospel to me in word and in deed.
This blog post is not a devotional thought or a pick-me-up for your week. This post is a thank you to those who have loved me in a way that gave me preference, which I could never deserve. It’s a thank you for hearing me and walking with me through this growth process that will last until the day I die. Thank you for sitting with me at meals, sharing Zoom calls, phone calls, texts, and just life – because this pastor needs it. You show me the love and grace of God every day and it truly humbles me as a man who it is not owed.
It’s simply out of God’s grace that I have you in my life and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Love you all,
Young Adult Minister – Evan McNeff