One morning, a very good friend and I were driving to a destination in his mother's extremely slick Camaro. My buddy was borrowing his mother's vehicle until he had the funds to purchase his own, so he was taking special care not to damage the car, and he made sure that I was very vigilant while being a passenger. I do not remember the exact location we were driving to; however, I do remember a sense of urgency about being on time. En route, I was eating some graham crackers and enjoying the ride, when somehow, the wrapper slipped from my fingers and fell to the floor — crumbs everywhere! Of course, it was an accident, and by no means did I intend to violate his mother's beautiful automobile; however, my buddy did not believe this. In a flash, he pulled the Camaro to the side of the road and demanded that we clean up the car and find that wrapper, because there would be hell to pay if his mother found out about our desecration. So here we are, frantically searching for a lost cracker wrapper — in my opinion, extremely ridiculous — and in the meantime, rapidly becoming late for the engagement.
The whole process of looking for the wrapper took more time than it should have and was a waste, in my opinion. It wasn't like his mother, who lives in Alaska, was going to fly down at that very moment and discover that we had cluttered up her beautiful car with some crumbs and a missing wrapper; my friend, however, did not see the situation the same way. He had been raised in an overly strict home, where every little mistake had retribution of severe consequences. In his mind, this was important, but I had a more laid-back approach to this whole cracker drama, not having been raised as severely as he had been. Eventually, after a heated debate, we located the vile wrapper and finished cleaning the car. Once the dust had settled between us, and we realized how silly the whole event had been, we broke out in hysterics, because, really, we had simply misunderstood each other.
Relationships are very complicated, especially if both parties bring their own set of life wounds and problems into the mix, which actually is very normal. I believe a majority of relational problems stem from a lack of understanding about the other person and why they behave the way they do. In the scenario I just gave, the real problem was not the crackers but the response both my friend and I presented towards the situation.
Psalm 139:14 – I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. (NIV)
God made us fearfully and wonderfully, even with all our weaknesses. This silly example brings home a very important point: we all are made by God and deserve understanding and respect, even if the other person's response to a situation doesn't make sense. I was guilty of being too judgmental about my friend and his response to the cracker issue, which in his mind was a huge deal. Later on in life, I found out about his childhood and how severe it was — borderline abusive — which would explain his reaction to something so insignificant to me. God made him and has far more compassion and understanding towards him than I could ever have. If by chance I had given my friend a little more room to be himself, I might have had a better understanding of his actions as well.
Maybe you are in the place I was — with a friend, family member, or colleague — a place where you just do not always "get" them. Or maybe you are a person who feels very misunderstood by others, and wish there were someone who would embrace you fully, bruises and all. I have fantastic news: God does! He made you and understands everything, and according to Psalm 139, you are fearfully and wonderfully made by God — what freedom that is! If we would simply take the time to recognize each person as unique and specifically made by God, who knows, we might join them and become lost cracker detectives too.
Prayer: Lord, thank You that You have made each one of us fearfully and wonderfully — unique! Help us to accept Your love as all the approval that we need, and enable us to accept others who are hard to understand or even get along with, on the same basis as You love us. Amen.