Continuing on with this idea of how our understanding of love and grace are tied to time, I want to talk about how it may apply to those older than yourself. I’m not talking 5 or 6 years but a generation or two older.
Take my father for example.
My father and I had very different views on alcohol. He didn’t drink and never really understood why someone would. He had seen so much pain and damage caused by alcohol he could never get his head around why someone would do it. The idea of drinking responsibly seemed more like that, an idea than something that could actually happen.
I drink. I’m careful and responsible. I remember talking with my dad about it once. One of the things I admired about my dad was he was very aware of his bias. No one gets them all but he was really good at identifying his.
I remember one of the few times we talked about drinking and his insight was brilliant. He said “it’s just hard for me. I know it doesn’t say in the bible anywhere you can’t, but that’s what I was taught. I was taught it was bad. I’m 50 years old and it’s hard to just break that idea. You have to remember when I was a boy I wasn’t allowed to swim on a Sunday simply because it was a Sunday. So I know it’s not wrong but I feel like it is and it makes me uncomfortable.”
We didn’t talk much about it after that. I didn’t want to make him uncomfortable.
But he articulated what I think we can often miss. He saw his own bias, he saw the difference between what he was TAUGHT and what was FACT. Even with that he still had to fight his feelings about it because that’s all he’d ever known.
So what does this have to do with grace and love?
Dad was asking for grace. He wanted me to be gracious and understand that he’s not perfect and some of his ideas may not be mine and they may not be rational but they are deeply held and personal. He couldn’t just stop being who he had been or thinking what he’d been taught for so long.
We don’t control the other person. We can’t make someone who thinks differently than we do change and think like we feel they should but we can understand them. We can work to see where they are coming from and understand how the time and space they grew up in affects how they see the world.
While they may never see it different and they may not be aware enough to realize and say they see it different or that what they hold as truth may be more culture or an idea we need to love them. We need to shared grace and love. We only control our choices.
Remember, one day you’ll be old, outdated and seen as backwards and won’t it be nice if someone a little your junior showed you a little grace?