DECORATED IN ORANGE AND BLACK crepe paper, the room was festive and gay. It was a day to honor my stepson Tyler’s achievements after his graduation from high school. Family and friends had gathered and talked quietly in groups at various tables inside the club house, while Tyler and his friends played a beanbag toss game in the front yard. An assortment of food was arranged buffet style for guests to munch on. A table displaying Tyler’s achievements and childhood paperwork, along with a colorful board of pictures, stood next to the door entering the party room.
When my husband Ben and I arrived, we spotted Katie (my husband’s daughter), Scott (her husband) and our new grandson Owen. We sat next to them. I quickly scooped the baby up into my arms while Ben filled a plate of food. I gazed around the room. The collection of people gathered were friends and family members from Tyler’s mom and stepfather’s side of the family, a few parents of his friends, and some of his friends from school. A small number of them I had before met at past gatherings. So after doting on the baby, I made my way around the room visiting with people I knew and introducing myself to those I didn’t. During the party, I occasionally spoke with Tyler’s mom and stepfather, and when the it was over, I offered to help them clean up.
After arriving home from Tyler’s graduation party, and while pondering the events of the afternoon, my thoughts flashed back to another graduation party. It was my son Casey’s fourteen years earlier in June of 2000. I had rented a beach pavilion close to his high school campus and decorated it with maroon and white streamers. Just like Tyler’s, there was a buffet table on one end and a gift table on the other displaying various plaques, achievement certificates, and a board with pictures. Family and friends had gathered to help Casey celebrate his special day.
When my ex-husband and his woman friend arrived, they sat at the opposite end of the pavilion. Even though it had been two years since our divorce, my emotions were still raw. My ex had moved on. I hadn’t. Moving on for me was difficult to do after almost twenty years of marriage. So needless to say, when they arrived, I felt almost betrayed. It was a difficult day for me being around them. What irked me the most was the way my ex’s friend seemed so carefree and friendly. She talked to me as if we were friends and chatted with my parents in the same manner. When the party was over, she pitched in and helped with the clean up. I couldn’t believe the “other woman” had the nerve to mingle in such a manner.
As my mind returned to the present, I suddenly became aware that I had now walked in the shoes of the “other woman”. My actions at Tyler’s graduation party were no different than my ex’s friend’s actions at my son’s graduation fourteen years ago. I mingled and chatted with family and friends from Tyler’s mom’s side of the family. I offered to help clean up. I even sat and chatted with Tyler’s grandmother and grandfather. When I did this, it was because I loved Tyler. I was proud of him and wanted to share with others in his accomplishments. My intentions were not to upset his mom or make her feel uncomfortable.
I realized that my ex’s friend probably had the same feelings about Casey as I did about Tyler. She was proud of Casey. She was proud of his accomplishments. She wanted to share in his excitement. She mingled and served out of love for Casey, such as I did for Tyler. She had no deliberate intention of upsetting me or making me feel bad. It was probably just as hard for her as it had been for me. The uneasiness and tension for her was overruled by her love for my son.
I am mystified by how and when God chooses to reveal a lesson. This one took fourteen years and started way before I even knew I would have a stepson or his graduation party to attend. How amazing is that!
I am awed that God sees my entire life from beginning to end. He knows what will happen in the days ahead and puts up with my cries of distress and despair all the time knowing that at some point, He will reveal to me something positive from my pain. This time, He wanted me to see through her eyes and walk in her shoes and know that love was the genuine force that drove her actions.
“Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.” (Matthew 7:1-2, NASB)
Prayer: Father, thank You for Your love and gentle teaching. Help me to realize that my thoughts can be one-sided. Let me put myself in the other person’s shoes and try to see the situation through their eyes. Help me to realize that hurting me may not be their intent, but perhaps have other, far more honorable reasons for their actions. In Jesus’ name, Amen.