I was contemplating how to clarify a recent misunderstanding I experienced in my personal life.
So, this morning, as I was getting ready for work, I asked my nine-year-old son, Waylan, who just started fourth grade (but has the people skills of Mother Teresa and the wisdom of Ghandi), how he handles misunderstandings with his buddies at school.
I said, “Do you address the issue directly with them, or just stay quiet and hope it goes away?”
His response gave me reason to pause. At first, he said he talks to them about it. Then, if that doesn’t work, he just reacts the way they acted toward him. You know, the Golden Rule, “Do unto others what they have done to you…”
But wait, this is missing a very important component. “Do unto others what YOU WISH THEY WOULD do to you.“
I said, “Way, I think you have that saying a little confused.”
He confidently responded: “Mom, haven’t you ever heard the saying ‘You scratch my back, I scratch yours?’ That’s how I see it.”
Confused, and trying desperately not to laugh at the irony of his sweet nine-year-old words, I told him I had heard that saying, but didn’t quite think it applied in this case.
Although, the more time I’ve had to think about it, perhaps he is right in his youthful approach.
Only, instead of waiting patiently (or, not so patiently, in my case) for someone to metaphorically scratch my back by way of being kind, understanding, patient, saying hello first, giving credit where credit is due, taking turns doing the unpopular jobs, and just all around being a nice guy or gal… perhaps I should be the first to scratch (again, metaphorically) the back of adversity.
Hmmm, what an interesting concept….
Really, isn’t the saying in real life something more like: “I scratch your back, maybe you’ll scratch mine, probably not, but at least I can rest at night knowing I tried” pretty head-on with: ‘Treat others as you would want to be treated?”
The thing is, there is no guarantee that following this advice will magically morph folks into being more in tune with their humanity. If anything, it may cause them to bristle and wonder what you are up to in their perceived “weirdly nice antics.”
In genuinely caring about others and giving them a free pass, some might say, “turn the other cheek,” the growth that ensues is really more about the work necessary in our own hearts, and less about the hearts we are attempting to soften.
I think I will follow my son’s advice. Only, in reverse order.
Extend the olive branch, go the extra mile, be the bigger person, scratch that impossibly stiff back, and while I may never see a positive return for my effort, it may just put me more in tune with the man who introduced this very topic, several hundreds of years ago.
Loving others is not that hard of a concept to grasp; although admittedly, the follow through can be very difficult.
After all, I have heard, and believe it to be true: Those who are easy to love, likely do not need the love, they have enough to spare. It is those that tempt, test, and taunt us to a T, that likely need that special dose of love that only comes from Jesus’ himself.
A pure, deep, saturating love, with no expectations in return.
A love that we, as humans, are only capable of giving through the knowledge that He gracefully gave (and continues to give) that same love to us…undeserving, imperfect, flawed human beings.
Once we come to that realization, with the help of His Holy Spirit dwelling in us, we are capable of giving that same love to others!
Whether we receive it back or not has no bearing. We want to pass on the love we, ourselves, have gracefully received.
I scratch your back….you may not see fit to scratch mine. But it sets in motion an arrow of positivity and future flowing grace, that while temporarily pulled back, that will eventually spring forth into the world at large.