We were at a get together with co-workers and it was the first time the “new hire” had been invited to hang out. She was a big personality, smart, bold, fun (maybe a bit too much of all of these for being the “new girl.”) I don’t know what lead to the moment, but I remember standing around with several other ladies as Belinda had climbed up on the dining room table and was doing the hula, laughing loudly, with no reservation. (Ok, just to clarify – no one was drinking, we all worked for a ministry, but yes if you pictured the scene as something different you can understand while we were all caught off guard by her freedom, comfort and silliness.)
I remember most of my co-workers standing back from the table trying to cover their mouths as they whispered under the breaths various forms of criticism and disapproval. And this was my moment……I feel like it was almost one of those Holy Spirit audibles – “are you going to disqualify this girl or make an allowance for her very overt personality.”
FORBEARANCE. In fact in writing this note it is a word that rarely shows up in Scripture and yet is cross referenced for many stories in the Bible. It is a word that means “making allowances for.” It is a “grace” of sorts. And when my mentor challenged me with this word, it was in a way that we have the chance to “make allowances for others who are different than you.”
In it is contained the idea and challenge that we can have grace for each other. We can choose to forgive little grievances or violations. We can overlook that mannerism in another that we don’t like. We can accept that person even if they really “rub us the wrong way.” We can be more than tolerant, we can be tolerant with whipped topping and a cherry on top. We can allow God to stretch our hearts passed our silly preferences and love that neighbor, co-worker or PTA member.
On that day, with that crazy hula dancer I am happy to report I chose forbearance. I chose in that moment to not disqualify her for doing a hula table dance and making us all a bit uncomfortable. I chose grace for someone I saw as very different from me. And you may have already guessed, ended up choosing a lady who would become one of my very best friends for the last 12 years.
So who may God want you to show forbearance for? Who can you make room for in your heart? My daughter recently got a new pair of shoes and her initial blisters are such a great object lesson for understanding forbearance. If your shoe is rubbing tight in one spot you will most likely get a blister – most places of the shoe may fit just fine but there may be that one or two small places that present a conflict between your foot and that shoe. But we all know that if you keep wearing that shoe eventually most will give way and make an allowance for the shape of your foot.
Sometimes we are so finicky we only want to deal with the shoes that fit perfectly from the start. And sometimes we seek those out and find them as well. But maybe it is time to take a moment to consider that gal who gave you a blister? Who is that “one” that honestly just “rubs you the wrong way?” Don’t toss them aside! Don’t give up! Challenge your heart to make room for their different shape. Yes you may have a blister for a bit. Yes you may have to get out a scripture and use it as a band-aid to help sooth the place where it rubs. But sisters I want to encourage you to FORBEAR. Because I don’t know about you – but I’m convinced a gal can never have too many shoes or too may friends!