Last year my grandkids went to a little preschool held at a small church – it was a new experience for us all. At most schools, there is etiquette involved in the drop-off and the pick-up. Nobody wants to be that parent doing it wrong because the other parents are ready to pounce on the weak.
I was visiting the kids in Oklahoma and I got to go along with my daughter, Rachel, for the drop-off and pick up. At drop-off, we had arrived a little early. We weren’t allowed in the building until 9:00. There was a huge turn about parking area right in front of the door. Anyone would love to get to pull up there to drop off his or her kid but it wasn’t allowed so no one dared.
We sat in the car talking and waiting when we both noticed a big new SUV pull up into that forbidden parking spot…we both looked at each other with furrowed eyebrows, mouths open and made the same sound while shaking our head- No- ahhhh! Appalling!! We could see the other parents in their respective cars, whispering, making the same faces and could imagine what they were saying.
Rachel and I hesitated to criticize because, quite plainly, it is wrong and not helpful. We sat quietly for a minute then she asked me….“But what do you think is going on, really?” So we began down that slippery slope… “I thought that was off-limits… who does she think she is? I mean I’m not trying to be ugly but that is just not fair! The nerve… I can’t think of any reason anyone would think they or their precious little child is any more important than ours!!” I goaded her a little, “You should say something, Rachel!” “Mom, I am not going to say anything, and neither are you!” Which I am bewildered as to why she would add that!
We sat there a minute longer actually curious… who was this mother?? Silence set in, the clock ticked and we waited. I like to get Rachel going because she is so funny. I asked, “What do you think she is wearing?” Rachel rolled her eyes at me, and said, “MOM!” Then Rachel said, “I bet she is skinny though!” I said, “I bet she is wearing heels.” Before we could get out another judgmental word, the door opened.
Rachel hit my shoulder to be quiet… it was happening… we held our breath… out stepped a lady who seemed more like a grandma possibly doing drop off for her daughter we surmised. Maybe her daughter was at home sick in bed and this grandma didn’t know the procedure. We immediately felt the regret one feels when we speak unkind words.
We watched in silence as she walked around the big SUV to open the passenger door. The first thing to come out wasn’t a backpack but instead a walker! The air evaporated from our car and shame set in. The grandma helped out a very elderly lady who had the most joyful face imaginable- almost an angelic glow. The grandma walked the elderly lady into the building and ran back out to her SUV. She then waved and mouthed “sorry” to all of us waiting in parked cars as she jumped back in the SUV. She drove over and parked it in a regular spot and then proceeded to walk into the building.
In a moment everything changed. Patience replaced impatience. Max Lucado says, “that patience always hitches a ride with understanding.” Proverbs 11:12, “A man of understanding holds his tongue.”
I’d like to think we weren’t the only ones casting judgment on something we didn’t at all understand. But that didn’t matter because we knew better and immediately felt so small. As we walked into the building on the right side of the hall was a room set up for quilting and needlework. Sitting inside the room were precious senior adult ladies joyfully working on their projects. They smiled and waved to us all as we quietly passed by not knowing the scrutiny they had been put through moments earlier. We smiled and waved wondering when we would ever learn to allow God to teach us patience and understanding.
Next time I feel unfairly treated, or impatient in a situation, I will think of the sweetest lady I ever saw step out of that big SUV, and, by the way, she wasn’t wearing heels.
“Let your patience show itself perfectly in what you do.” James 1:4
God help us all to be people of patience and understanding. Patient before we understand.