Living the Gospel – September 22, 2019

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Our Gospel reading reminded me of a blog that Rachel Macy Stafford recently wrote.

‘When I was around 17 years old, I got pulled over by a police officer on my way to school one morning for speeding. I saw my dad drive past on his way to work. All day I was nervous about what was going to happen. Later that night, Dad came to my room and said he saw me pulled over. He did not guilt, berate or belittle me. He talked to me about the repercussions of speeding and what would happen if I was stopped again. Although I got his message loud and clear, I saw understanding in his eyes.

What my dad saw was how humiliated I was … how guilty I felt … how much I regretted what I did. He saw I was beating myself up enough. He didn’t feel it was necessary to add to my pain. Do you know what that one solitary response did for our relationship? I saw my dad as someone who I could turn to in times of trouble… someone willing to remember his own mistakes and how he would have liked to be treated during his lowest moments. While my dad expected me to take responsibility – he did not expect me to be perfect.

This realization was a game-changer in my life and now, as I raise my own children, it is helping me immensely. As my two teens navigate greater academic demands, added peer pressures, and more opportunities to spread their wings and fall down, I refer to my dad’s moment of compassion often. I refrain from making accusations, badgering, questioning and shaking my head in shame because I see they already know they have done wrong. What they need is for me to listen, empathize, encourage and believe in their ability to overcome. You just never know when your compassionate response to their mistake will put you in a whole new light … As someone to confide in when they feel lost and alone, As someone to commiserate with when they don’t know what to do, As someone to remind them of their worth when they feel like giving up.  ‘ Rachel Macy Stafford 2019 Hands Free Revolution’

Rachel and her dad are practical examples of how the Master (in the Gospel) neither berated nor punished his servant for his actions. May we treat everyone (not just our children) with compassionate listening!

Peg Orzel