The story goes something like this…
Covey was on a train in a city. The train was relatively full of people with places to go. They were headed off to work or headed home. They were off to appointments or to see friends. It was the normal stuff of a normal day.
A man got on the train with two children. The man found a seat and buried himself in the newspaper. Meanwhile, the kids were quite disruptive. They ran back and forth. They were noisy and yelled. They climbed. And the man, who was their father, didn’t seem to notice at all.
Covey, meanwhile, did notice. He noticed that the other passengers were getting frustrated at the wild kids. It was pretty clear. Body language can convey a lot. And, Covey, himself, was getting to the breaking point.
When he couldn’t take any more he tapped the father on the shoulder and said, “Excuse me sir. But your kids are being rather disruptive. Would you mind doing something about them.” He was polite, but clear.
The man put down the paper and looked at his children and back at Covey. He said, “I suppose you’re right. But we just now left the hospital where their mother died and I don’t think they know how to act now at all. Neither do I.”
The story, as I was told it, doesn’t go on from there. I don’t know if others who had lost a spouse spoke with him. I don’t know if the frustrated passengers gradually moved on to another car. I don’t know if the kids settled down. I don’t know.
But as I heard the story I saw myself in those passengers on the train, frustrated with the behavior of others. It might not be noisy kids on the train. It might be the car that’s going too slow. It might be the people talking loudly as I sip my coffee. It might be some kids behaving in a way I hope my own kids never do. It could be whoever was going to sit next to me on my next flight. But I’ve been there…stewing because of the actions of those around me, disappointed in persons, getting angry, wanting to say something.
I almost never say anything, even if I really want to.
And, perhaps there’s a time to do something about it.
But, perhaps more, we all need to show a little more grace to those around us who aren’t behaving or talking or listening the way we think they should. We all have our “stuff.” We all have our bad days, our distractions, the times where we need to blow off steam. We all struggle with our kids or our parents or our friends. I’m sure I’ve been on flights or on trains and had persons and persons struggled with me…as I joked around with friends as a youth or struggled with kids as an adult.
And, while I can lose sight of this in the midst of frustrations, Jesus comes to us with a posture of grace and patience and love. To all that I have going on, to all my “stuff,” he offers his peace and mercy and, well, grace.
And, knowing that, I should try to do the same.
What would the world look like with a little more grace?