Along with the burden of cognitive challenges, Samuel (not his real name) carries a backpack filled with OCD, ADHD and several other “issues” represented by letters of the alphabet. He’s a sweet gentleman, but when he’s ON – he’s on… like a two year old on overdrive stuck in the body of a 50 year old. And he knows it. He knows that when he’s hyper he needs to be still, so he’ll mutter to himself, “sit here, stay here.” But his body doesn'tlisten. It rocks back and forth – side to side like a pinball is spinning through his veins. When he’s not telling himself to be still he’s repeating everything I say.
Everything I say.
Everything I say.
So I look at him, trying to have a kind smile on my face, and he goes into “Shhh… be quiet… Shhh…be quiet” mode.
And then cycle starts all over.
On Thursday, I had already spent seventy-five minutes with him and twenty others … trying to teach them something about God’s goodness towards us and how our obedience and contentment in His will blesses us. And I was exhausted. It was the end of a long week. And here he was again, this time in choir.
And we needed to get through things. I needed to hear individuals sing so I will be able to assign solos. We had lots of logistics to go over. And my patience was more reflective of my flesh than of the Holy Spirit. My physical manor was growing tenser, although I was trying to hide it. But then I saw it reflected in how other choir members were treating Samuel. They were growing impatient too.
I didn't want to give a “let’s be nice to Samuel” speech right in front of him. So, I looked directly at him and said, “Samuel, we are going to give you a lot of grace today.”
And he cheered. And he clapped. And he knew exactly what it meant.
Even though he doesn't understand everything – he understands that he can be overwhelming to people. I’m guessing he’s heard that a lot. But, he, loving Jesus, also knows what grace is.
And a sob caught in my throat.
Who am I not to issue grace to him all the time? Me who so desperately needs it? Who so desperately has received it? It is me who concentrates more on my agenda than the fact that I have been saved and am going to heaven. Oh, Samuel… I’m so sorry.
After seeing his joy, I was reminded of my joy – the joy I do have (although I forget it) in being redeemed… and I saw a change come over everyone in the room. We all relaxed. We all celebrated. We all loved Samuel and each other with … well, with grace.
Maybe I need to keep a pocket full of grace tickets and start handing them out. To the person in front of me at the grocery store who is holding up the line. To the bad driver who blocks the lane. To my family when they are tired and weary. To my friends when they need someone who will just listen. To my co-workers who have no energy to spare. To my church family that is stretching and growing. And even to myself …who is learning every day what it is like to live in grace.