Saturday, August 21, 2010

Goodness, Gracious Me

I was sitting at one of the cramped coffee tables in City Hall Starbucks, working on some HopeKids script, when a group of teenagers decked in funky '80s retro attire came along. =)

All of a sudden, one teenage guy in a pink t-shirt and nerd-chic glasses took one of the seats from my table. I was taken aback, because of the sheer proximity and suddenness with which he plunked himself down, and chatted with his group at the table next to mine, face away from me.

So I wondered how to ask him nicely, and whether my request was legitimate in the first place. Decided that it was, as it's good manners to ask someone's permission before you grab a chair from his table.

I bent over and tapped him gently and asked him, "Er, excuse me please..." No response. He hadn't heard me. "ER, EXCUSE ME PLEASE?"

Surprised, he turned around to see who it was. I motioned (a bit awkwardly) to him that he shouldn't be sitting in my chair. I think I was a bit at a loss what to say, because I hadn't encountered such a situation before.

But a slightly older girl (probably in her late teens) told him, "You should ask his permission first before you take his seat." The guy quickly took himself off the chair and moved over to the other side of the table.

At first, I felt a bit offended. But this verse from Proverbs came to mind: "He who loves a pure heart and whose speech is gracious will have the king for his friend." The word "gracious" shone in my mind, and I asked God inwardly how could I have been more gracious. Was pondering about it, and also was wondering why the guy didn't bother to apologise.

I then glanced at the group, and noticed that another guy was wearing some Christian t-shirt. Seems like it said, "Hug me if you believe in Jesus". Oooh. Maybe this was a youth group. Heh. But they didn't look very Singaporean... perhaps they were Koreans.

So maybe that older girl was probably their cell-group leader.

Then thought about it further. Perhaps the guy hadn't apologised, because he must have been very surprised, and really didn't know that he had done wrong. So naturally, he would have felt embarrassed at committing a social faux pas in front of the whole group, and that would probably be why he had gone so fast over to the other side, to distance himself from me - the cause of his 'social embarrassment'. Nice guy, but a bit tenderfoot. LOL.

Interesting. I continued reflecting, wondering how I could be more gracious next time, and thinking what I could do. I was thinking, should I be more direct, and let him know directly that he should ask permission first? But the verse "...whose speech is gracious..." kept nudging me.

Then, I saw the guy standing around while the rest of the group was sitting down. Again, the verse "He who loves a pure heart and whose speech is gracious..." came to mind. That, and a Dale Carnegie story about some similar incident. I had a wave of inspiration. I bent over again, and asked Mr. Pink-Tee to take the empty chair and sit down. I said to him, "Do you need a seat? It's ok for you to take my seat. Just do remember to ask next time. :)"

Mr. Pink-Tee and his peers stared at me in surprise. But the guy graciously took the seat and sat down with the rest of his gang. After a few minutes, the whole group got up to go off. Just before Mr. Pink-Tee left, he gently slid the chair that he had taken back into my table and nodded a silent "thank you".

I think both of us learnt a very wonderful lesson about being gracious to one another today. Thank God too for Weizhu, Peter and Huaqiang who also kept on imparting to me in the past about the goodness of being gracious.

Personally, it's very easy to get angry and start criticizing the other person who has been ungracious to me. But perhaps it'll be good to consider what Jesus said about the people who crucified Him: "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." I think all too often we expect that the other person should know better. But what if he/she really doesn't know better? And even if he/she did "know"... he/she doesn't know the harm he/she is doing... so why not choose to see them through the eyes of a compassionate and gracious God?

"Everyone needs compassion,
Love that's never failing;
Let mercy fall on me.

Everyone needs forgiveness,
The kindness of a Saviour;
The hope of nations..."

Yes, dear friends, you need forgiveness for your sins. Hee. Yes, even you! You need compassion for all the wrongs that you've done, for you did not know what you were doing. You need mercy, not justice! So why not reflect on your own neediness too, that you are so wretched that you need the kindness of a Saviour? That Someone had to die in your place, that you may live? :)

Often, we start feeling 'sian' about the fact that we have been saved from our sins. But it's because we have forgotten how badly we have sinned in the first place. But were we to even grasp a little glimpse of the horrors and ugliness of all our sins against a perfect and holy God... whoa, I think you too would be grabbing and kissing the feet of Jesus your dear Saviour, and washing them with your tears, weeping non-stop. :)

Hee... thank You dear Father for hearing my heart's request to grow in graciousness. Thank You for reminding me through Your Word, and helping me practice being more gracious in thought, word and deed. Please help me see and treat others like Your dear Son would. In Jesus' most gracious name, I pray Amen.

(PS: Please forgive me for the egoistic-sounding title! But couldn't resist the wordplay... haha)


All About Shenteng said...

I think you are a good storyteller. Your style reminds me of Max Lucado. I have officially become a fan of your blog! :)

yeu@nn said...

Wow! Thanks a lot Shenteng for your gracious compliment hee. Shall do my best to tell stories for God and for you guys!