Multiple books have been written about it. Countless editorials. Don’t even start with the plethora of YouTube videos…
“What to Do Now… How to Prepare… Prepare Now for Christmas!”
And so I began toying and tinkering with sharing some angle of how best to prepare… making my list and checking it twice. Do we talk about all the plans to be made, less material gifts to be given, address lists updated, etc. etc. etc.?
But then it donned on me… although we’ll have to follow a simple story that might initially seem irrelevant… but it’s not…
A few weeks ago, just after Thanksgiving, I was out taking one of my morning long walks. I like to walk maybe 4-5 miles, thinking, praying, talking to my dad along the way — a special Thursday routine we established a few short years ago.
After this particular day, before starting on my typical tasks, I happened to jump on Facebook and check out our neighborhood page. But what to my wondering eyes did appear?! A picture of someone seemingly damaging the property of another in our ‘hood. In a neighborhood known for its outstanding, authentic community, the pic and accompanying description were disappointing that someone would actually do such a thing. And then I looked a little closer at the person in the pic. It was slightly far away — capturing the individual from behind… but…
It was me!
Oh, my. Talk about arising such a clatter… I couldn’t believe it!
It was me.
The picture was not accurate. I was not doing anything inappropriate and strive to never engage in such. The challenge, though, obviously, was that such could not be discerned from the picture.
Also by this time — since my Thursday walks are long ones, remember — the picture had been posted for well over an hour. Hence, a dozen or so persons had already commented on the perceived carelessness and callousness of the supposed offender.
What should I do?!
Ignoring the initial temptation to totally hibernate, never go outside again, and/or dismiss any desire to publicly defend myself, I simply reached out privately to the person who had posted the photo. I introduced myself, identified myself as the person in the pic, and humbly shared that what was believed to have occurred in the photo was not accurate. If there was more I needed to say or do to work the situation through, I would gladly do so.
My neighbor was exceedingly gracious. She responded immediately and welcomed the reaching out. Through the course of our extended conversation, she, too, realized the inaccuracy of the picture. Photographic evidence isn’t always what it seems.
She then sincerely apologized, and we talked for a while more — we even laughed for a while more! We quickly became mutually respected, fast friends.
So allow me to circle back on how to prepare for the season before us — as it is relevant in a season that encourages the concept of peace on Earth and letting it “begin with me.” Allow me to suggest a heart prep that takes a little more intention, a little more time, may be a little harder, but is definitely more profitable…
1. Don’t rush to judgment.
2. Recognize that what you see may not be true.
3. Work out conflict.
4. Be generous with both forgiveness and apologies. And…
5. Treat all people with lavish respect. Always.
Want to prepare for Christmas? Want that peace on Earth to “begin with me”?
I’m thinking the above is a fantastic place to start.