“Putting up with others is a work of mercy: enduring their behavior, awkward manner or perhaps their nagging; in other words, to lovingly disregard what really amounts to minor shortcomings. Similar to feeding the hungry and visiting the sick, this is one of the works that will be asked of us at our final examination.”Chiara Lubich, Heaven on Earth, pg 47
I have been receiving these daily little snippets of wisdom for a while now. They are mostly the reflections of Chiara Lubich, founder of the Focolare Movement, but there have also been many words of wisdom from Pope Francis’ writings. They range in topic and I never know what the next one will be about. Some hit me square between the eyes (like this one), others are insightful and good to chew on throughout the day.
This one has stayed with me even beyond the day I received it. At first glance, I felt so justified and self-righteous (not exactly the response Chiara intended I’m sure). Look at me, I do this every day! I am home with small children, I “endure their behavior” and their incessant “Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!” cries. Honestly, I’m so good at this, even though the big 4 kids are in full time school now instead of homeschool, I’m still at home with a 3 year old and a 19 month old who, let’s face it, clearly have many shortcomings to grow out of. And let’s not get started on those 4 big kids who come clamoring home every day practically shouting all the things they did at the same time so I can’t think or hear straight. Kids, so much to learn. Thank goodness they have a mom like me who can put up with them. These kids are my ticket to heaven, stamped and ready to go.
If I could see your face right now, dear reader, I imagine I’d see some version of the nervous or anxious emoji. And you’d probably be silently stepping back from me as the lightening from on high was surely coming swiftly.
Wow! Just, wow. What an arrogant string of thoughts! I have many, many reasons to be thankful for our faith and here is but one of them. If I didn’t have a faith lens to check myself with, the above reaction probably would have been the end of that particular string of thoughts. Yikes! Taking the same words of Chiara with a lens of faith offers a radically different journey that, surprisingly perhaps, comes to a similar conclusion.
Do I have to put up with others. Absolutely. Do they also have to put up with me? Absolutely. Here’s the thing, none of us are perfect. We all have shortcomings. Focusing on the shortcomings of others does not diminish our own. We all have areas of grow, to improve, to become holy. It doesn’t matter who we are or what we have done. Jesus loves each one of us with perfect love. He is the one who “lovingly disregards” our shortcomings, minor or otherwise, while drawing us closer to Himself. This means that even while we were unworthy of salvation, Jesus freely gave Himself for us. Nothing we did or will do can earn that kind of love or sacrifice.
Jesus is the one who shows us how to “put up” with others. It is to love them for who they are, not because they check all the boxes, but because He loves them. Jesus does not wait for us to be cleaned up before He draws us close to Himself. He reaches out with open arms, and challenges us to do the same with those whose shortcomings we find the least desirable (even if they poop in the bathtub. Because, yes, that happened in our house. Twice now).
At first, I had put myself in the role of the one “putting up” with other people, especially my children. On a second, and more humble, scan, I saw in myself my own shortcomings that my kids have to put up with. I can lose my temper, I am impatient, I make impulsive choices that aren’t well thought out or are selfish. I have room to grow in all the areas of my life.
I’m their ticket to heaven just as much as they are mine.