My grandmother has the most beautiful things, including china, dishes, candlesticks and lamps. In other words, a lot of beautiful, breakable things. My grandmother also has a lot of grandchildren. These things don’t always go well together.
Myself, as well as other cousins, have on numerous occasions broken one of Grandma’s pieces of glassware. I remember one family party when dinner was just being served up, and I was trying to navigate the crowded food line. Holding my plate, silverware and napkin was just too much for my small hands. I felt it slipping but didn’t know what to do. The ornate, china plate fell to the tile floor.
You know that split second of silence after something shatters on the ground? It’s in that split second that I caught my breath in shock waiting for the reprimand, gasp or look of disapproval. And in that moment, my grandma had a choice.
She would always, no matter what was broken, say something to the effect of: “That’s ok! Don’t worry!” Immediately, that’s what she said to me. No hesitation. I remember asking her about it later and having her tell me, “What’s done is done and it’s no use being upset over.”
Her reaction had a profound effect on me and I desperately wanted to be like her. By the grace of God I was given the chance last night. We had a young family over for dinner and when the 3 yr. old begged for a small glass cup, I had a sense it wouldn’t end well. Sure enough, she dropped it from the table on to the cement floor. In that tiny second, my grandma crossed my mind and I said as cheerfully as possible, “That’s ok!!” So the toddler knew we weren’t mad at her for the accident.
My first reaction in these situations is not to be patient. I have a temper just as much as anyone else. All I can do is thank God for the grace of that moment that my own temper, stubbornness and impatient reaction shattered along with that cup and it became a moment of victory over “self.”
As we’re trying to become holier people, I think one of the hardest things is to overcome these natural inclinations that we have. It’s the difference between virtue and our fallen, human nature that leans towards sin. You know like how you don’t want to say “hi” to the awkward kid because it’s uncomfortable? But if you did it would be a great act of charity. Or when your little brother is driving you crazy and you want to explode … instead of keeping your cool and being patient.
These opportunities for virtue can seem like such little things. It’s easy to think they don’t matter. But to God, every little action or sacrifice matters.
You know that split-second of silence after something shatters on the floor? We face that moment of silence, that split-second choice between virtue and sin lots of times throughout the day.
All I can do is pray for grace in those little moments. I don’t want to think about myself all the time and how I feel – mad, annoyed, grumpy, etc. It’s a good thing we have such an awesome example in the saints to look up to. Everyday it was the little choices that got them closer and closer to heaven. I still have a long way to go – a lot more broken cups to not get mad about.
I hope nothing breaks for you today – but if it does – I also hope you think of this and are able to choose virtue.
I’m praying for you.