As a pastor, I get to know a diversity of people. Some of these individuals have hobbies and resources they shared with me and my family.Thankfully, these resources have provided good memories from my time as a pastor. Specifically, this story will cause me to fondly remember speedboats, couples’ communication, and veggie sandwiches.
Now, these people are some of my favorite people I have ever had the chance to pastor. Not only are they still they great supporters of both Amy and me, but we had a lot of values we shared together. Still, though they are friends I will refer to them as Larry and Sara in this amusing story.
Our boat journey began at a local State Park where we would put their boat into the lake. Unfortunately, our entry into the lake would be delayed because Larry forgot the ignition keys. This oversight was already embarrassing enough, but to make matters worse Sara fussed at him with her frustration. As an outsider to their debates I believe she too was embarrassed, but for different reasons.
Fortunately, Larry’s mistake was correctable since they only lived 5 miles away. This fact of convenience did not comfort Sara as she still spoke her mind towards Larry about his error. The fervor she expressed seemed like he had done something much worse. Larry, being the wise man he is decided to stop arguing and drive off to get the keys. Finally, he returned and Larry, Sara, Amy and I were on the lake with only a delay of 30 minutes from our original launch time.
Together, we each enjoyed the rest of the morning. As we traveled over the lake’s water Lary and Sara showed us how close their house was to the lake. Additionally, we saw other landmarks such as favorite dive points to the lake’s wealthier homes. It was a fun time and without incident…until lunch. Remember, earlier Larry suffered his share of embarrassment; now it was Sara’s turn.
Around noon the boat was pulled over so we could have our picnic lunch Sara planned for us. Carefully packed, she had chips, tomatoes, bread, cheese, lettuce, and meat…so she thought. See, Sara was a conscientious host as she packed all the ingredients in separate Ziploc bags. Her intention was to keep the bread from getting soggy from the meat and vegetables. She more than succeeded in her goal because we quickly discovered that not only were things packed individually, but she actually forgot the sandwich meat. Now it was Larry’s turn to fuss at Sara.
Being gracious Larry fussed at her in a very playfully manner. While chuckling, he said things like, “Well, I was able to go back and get the keys. What are you going to do, catch us some fish?”
Being simultaneously annoyed and playful too, Sara finally looked at Larry and said, “Shut up!”
Amy and I just kept our mouths shut and watched the drama unfold. Larry though smiled in reply to her request for him to be silent as she continued,
“Fair is fair; I should have been kinder 90 minutes earlier when you forgot the ignition keys. I’ve learned my lesson and will be careful to criticize in the future as you never know when it will come back on you!”
Larry just continued to smile and chuckle while he told her he forgave her. In the meantime, we all made the most of the food we had and enjoyed our veggie sandwiches. Really, they were quite delicious, and neither Amy or I missed the meat one bit. Furthermore, this experience has given the four of us a humorous experience to maintain our bond to this day. It is a trust that tastes far better than any sandwich meat could ever provide.
As I have known this couple over the years, Sara still fusses, and Larry does too. Their ability to argue is part of their charm because equally, they have a quick ability to forgive another. The difference now is that they rarely are judgmental towards the other. Rather, it appears they both remember that either one could be the next to make a mistake. Therefore, while they are assertive in their communication, they do not demean the other when expressing their frustrations. This practice has only strengthened their relationship.
- Measuring Sticks – In Matthew 7:2 Jesus said, “For you will be judged by the same standard with which you judge others, and you will be measured by the same measure you use.” Sara and Larry’s Veggie Boat Tour is a great illustration of the importance of Jesus’ words. First, Sara was criticizing Larry when he forgot the keys. Yet, 90 minutes later it was Sara who was at fault and open for ridicule. Playfully, Larry did use the same “measure” against Sara, but to gently admonish the situation. Both left the day realizing that criticism is easy to give, but can quickly be given in return.
- Forgiveness – Larry forgave Sara and their relationship thrived as a result. They can now accept their blunt honesty for future frustrations while keeping the comments from being personal. This assertive communication is very healthy since neither is too aggressive or passive.
- Vulnerability Creates Trust – Another reason why this couple is an ally to Amy and I are due to the embarrassing events of this day. Though unplanned, both Sara and Larry were made vulnerable before us. In their culture, a pastor’s opinion is greatly valued, so when these mistakes occurred, it explains their embarrassment. However, the fact that Amy and I still loved them despite the mistakes created long-term trust. It is important for all of us to be vulnerable to another and to extend the benefit of the doubt.
In closing, when I do a wedding I tell people, “Do not worry about making mistakes. You cannot control them, and the errors made create the best memories.” This advice is true about all relationships and life in general. Both Sara and Larry made mistakes on our Veggie Boat Tour, but it is the mistakes we remember most. Not because Amy and I seek to beat them up over their errors, but because it gave us a chance to apply God’s grace in the smallest of circumstances. As a result, we made great memories, laughed, and made great friends. Therefore, the next time someone makes a mistake in life let us not run to judge, condemn, or demean them. No, we can use the opportunity to be agents of God’s grace.