I took the three oldest kids (I have four) to see the movie Robots tonight. I love taking them to the theater and letting them experience the atmosphere, the anticipation, the popcorn, the soda-concoctions (they like it all mixed together), and the movie, of course.
Honestly, it was a thoroughly mediocre movie. It was enjoyable animation and there were a few fun moments, but the story was terrifyingly ordinary and boring. Oh well. The kids still thought it was the best movie ever. Next week there will be another new best movie ever.
As we entered the theater with sodas and popcorn (lightly buttered), we found the perfect row: far enough forward to drown out the world around us and far enough back so that a chiropractic appointment wouldn't be necessary for me the next day. There was no one behind us to kick our seats and no one in front of us who would get up to pee during a moment of cinematographic excellence.
But that's when the jerks walked in.
It was one of those families who inconsiderately sits in the row in front of you. And everyone who ever goes to the movies knows that there is no reason to sit in the row in front of or behind anyone. It's so rude.
One of their kids sat in front of me and the other out of our visual path. But the mom, with no concern for us at all, sat right in front of my 4 year old. Her foofy hair completely blocked his view. I noticed my son had to move his head all the way over to his left shoulder to try to see.
I gave one of those looks of disgust in the direction of the back of the lady's "hairnet helmet" hoping that she might feel the heat of my glare. How dare she? You come to a kid's movie and don't even look to see if you about to plop down right in front of a wide-eyed munchkin? Frustrating. Maddening.
And then God bapped me with the hypocrite-mallet.
This mother of small children had no idea that her choice of seat caused me or my kids any inconvenience. Should she have? Maybe. But she was occupied trying to keep her kids from spilling their soda-mix and popcorn and didn't look behind her. She was trying to be a good mom.
But as I was on the verge of committing film-rage I realized that her ignorance about blocking my child's view of the screen wasn't malicious or rude. It didn't deserve anger or frustration or laser-eyed stares. It deserved grace.
She deserved to be understood, especially from a dad. I know how easy it is to be so focused on keeping my kids from being stolen by a stranger, or keeping my kids from falling out of their seat that I completely miss an opportunity to be thoughtful and considerate of others. I wondered how many times I was the guy who sat in front of someones kid, or some other oversight. I'm sure it's happened all too often.
As a Christian, God has looked past so much in my life. So much apathy and prayerlessness and faithlessness and laziness. And He has kept on smiling on me instead of frowning. I continue to be the apple of His eye, not the object of his frustration. Mercy has been overflowing to me, so how can I be so quick to judge the motives or mistakes of others?
I think this is a huge problem many Christians have as we interact with the world. We are so quick to point out the apparent thoughtlessness of people and assume they are trying to be malicious. Maybe they are just doing their best with incomplete information. Maybe they are just acting upon the only facts the know. And because of a sinful nature they end up doing things wrong.
Maybe most homosexuals truly have an agenda to do what seems natural and loving to them. Maybe they aren't really trying to do wrong. Maybe most abortion doctors actually intend to help girls who have made a "mistake." Maybe most thieves are just trying to survive in the only way they know how. When people don't have the Truth, Christ, new hearts and renewed minds, what else should we expect?
Let's stop yelling at actors and politicians and soccer moms and love them instead. Let's be merciful. Maybe through our mercy they will learn about God's infinite mercy in Christ.