One of the greatest challenges for me in coming to grips with the spiritual confusion I have experienced has been trying to dialogue with friends whose own experiences tempted them to question the validity of mine. A couple months ago, a family get-together provided the backdrop for this parable:
Four siblings and their families gathered for a weekend reunion at their parents’ home in the country. For two days the weather was balmy and a glorious time was had by all. The night before they were scheduled to head home, the siblings heard a storm was blowing their way. Alas, they awoke to frigid breezes and a wintery mix of sleet, snow, and even thunder. And so, the weekend ended with quick hugs, “I love you’s”, and prayers for safe journeys home.
Anne and her family dodged sleeting rain as they walked home across an icy driveway. Boy, were they happy to be home and out of the path of the storm! Everyone was safe and secure, and some were even grateful that the weather dictated a day snuggled up at home.
Image courtesy of dan/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Michael loaded up his mini-van with his wife, three kiddos, and a nanny, then scraped the ice off the windshield with his trusty credit card and headed south. What should have been a four hour trip turned into an eight-hour ordeal complete with multiple stops to de-ice the windows so they could continue at a glacier-like pace.
Terese and her husband expected to make their one-hour trip before the storm made travel treacherous. Instead, they encountered slushy roads, cross winds, and icy bridges that more than doubled the length of their journey too. Along the way, they saw multiple spin-outs and stranded vehicles, testament to the even rougher journeys of some of their fellow travelers.
Meanwhile, Elaine and her family made it safely to the airport, checked in for their flight north, then boarded the plane. And then un-boarded. Then boarded again. Aaaand un-boarded yet again. After hours of suspense, their flight was cancelled. So they waited yet again, this time for Elaine’s parents to cautiously make the hour-long trip back to rescue them from an overnight in the airport.
All four siblings left the comfort and sweetness of the weekend reunion with happy memories. But each had a completely different experience out in the storm. For three of them, the experience was markedly more treacherous than for the other. Among those traveling, they each witnessed different things as they tried to make it safely home.
What would happen if, when the siblings compared notes later, Anne were to say: “The storm couldn’t possibly be as bad as you all are making it out to be! All we saw was freezing rain. For us, it really wasn’t a bad experience at all. In fact, we snuggled up safe and warm at home and just enjoyed our family time. If it was truly as bad as you say, surely we would have had the same experience! If you had a bad trip home – which I seriously doubt – but even if you did, it was probably your own fault. You should be better travelers. Why are you giving such a bad report about the weather anyway? It’s not even cold anymore! You should just forget about the storm and focus on the happy family time we shared.”
One storm; four different journeys.
And the moral of the story?
I think it’s that everyone has a valid perspective, and it is wise to listen and learn rather than considering invalid those whose experiences differ from my own.
What do you think?