I was in Church last week.
Placed on the seat next to me was a purse. The lady who owned the purse was two seats away.
The choir started singing and just like that Church had started. Maybe, ten minutes into the start a couple walked in and the usher pointed to the seat next to me and the seat with the purse. Immediately, the purse lady waved her hand to stop the couple saying she was saving it for someone. Everyone in the Church was staring. They were starting to make a scene. The wife told her husband to sit down next to me and she would sit somewhere else. She was obviously very annoyed at the lady so called “saving the seat.”
I talked with the lady about to leave her husband and told her to take my seat. I moved and just like that all was okay with the world. However, throughout my time in Church I watched as the purse remained on that seat.
No one came.
I could still feel tension between the couple and the lady sitting with the purse. We were all probably thinking the same thing. Was someone actually going to sit there? Or was she just being rude? Even if someone was going to sit there Church had already been going on for quite some time. This person could have just found another seat.
Then I had a realization.
My immediate thought was that the purse-lady was a mean person.
My default was that she was selfish
My instincts shouted at me that she was not to be trusted.
Why do we do this?
Everyday our default in this world is that the OTHER person is wrong. The OTHER person is rude. The OTHER person is not smart. The OTHER person is causing trouble.
I hate that.
I want to see people the way Christ sees people.
So I challenged myself.
Why might this purse-lady have been saving this seat?
I made a mental list.
- She was waiting for a friend who promised to be there.
- She is claustrophobic
- She is too old to pick up her purse from the floor
- She was waiting for her husband who never comes with her. Praying this time would be different.
- She was too overweight/had bad knees so it was difficult to bend down and get her purse.
- She had something valuable in the purse and did not want to let it out of her sight.
- She had medications in the purse she needed to access quickly.
- She was fearful of getting sick so she wanted some space.
- She was waiting for her son/daughter to come for the first time.
- She was sick and didn’t want anyone sitting so close to her.
- etc. etc. etc.
That is when it hit me.
Look at all those justifiable reasons why she did what she did.
Friends, let us start making these lists.
Taking a deep breath.
And changing our default setting to something more positive.
And even if this women was just plain rude.
Maybe, by treating her with love and respect it would change her heart for the better.