Charity by Grace

When confronted with an angry mom at the park, God blessed me to respond with charity -- a sharp contrast to the panic and self-blame I often choose! My experience teaches me that charity comes from God. It is a gift of grace. When have you experienced a change of heart, charity or godlike attributes beyond your own?


Video transcript (edited):

Recently I was at the park playing with my kids when another mom  became very angry about my children’s behavior. Even more troubling was that my children were doing things that I found acceptable. So this mom and I had a different idea of appropriate behavior at the park.

In addition, she confronted my children first. By the time I made sense of what was going on, I had both an angry mom and two tearful children, on the brink of a melt-down, to navigate. What was I going to do?

I can tell you what I've done in the past. I’ve panicked. I have frozen up inside and out in bewilderment. What is acceptable and unacceptable behavior in the park? Is the other mom over-reacting? Am I missing some internal compass of park-etiquette that other moms innately understand? I don’t know what the appropriate behavior is; I didn't know how to resolve all the emotional turmoil; I'm afraid of confrontation. Add it all together and I just freeze up.

I've read a book that helped tremendously, called _Nonviolent Communication_ by Rosenberg. His book gave me language for tense, confrontational situations. The language alone can help diffuse emotional crises. But even with his words and style, my gut response is still deer-in-the-headlights.

Yet this park day unfolded differently. The spirit was with me! I was completely calm. I still didn’t know what I was going to do or what steps I would take to get there. I felt a lot like a prophet in the Book of Mormon, his name is Nephi. He follows God’s commandment to retrieve a record of his people. He has no idea how it will work out, but he walks forward, one step at a time, trusting the spirit and “not knowing beforehand what [he] would do.”

I stood still and calm, and then I took the next tiny step that came into my mind. After I took that step, I took the next. And then the next. And bit by bit, the whole crisis unfolded beautifully! I ministered to my children. I apologized to the mom. I avoided any shame, blame, or doubt. I taught my children some life lessons.

But the best part was what was in my heart: love for this mom. Picture this angry mom, confronting my child, furious at me and them. So worked up, it’s difficult to understand what she’s communicating. And I felt LOVE for her. My whole heart was filled with, "Oh, hello, sweet mom at the park. What can I do to help you? How can I make your day easier? Because I see that this is hard for you right now."

Hooray! There was charity in my heart! God changes hearts.

He changed mine! I have been trying to fake charity for years. Actually no, I don't mean fake it. I mean I have been trying to love people and respond with charity for years, trying to DO the right thing, despite the right thing not being automatic or residential in my heart. And thus, I have often responded with panic, freezing up, or, even worse, self-blame, instead. And finally, praise be to God, I was able to feel calm inside myself, not take park mom’s behavior or emotions personally, and love this woman in distress.

God can change our hearts. He can do it better than we can! He can give us everything we need to be a disciple of Christ. We don't have to figure it out or fix it or even earn it ourselves. We just have to turn to our God and He can change our hearts. Jesus Christ can change our hearts.

There's a related scripture in the last book of the Book of Mormon. It’s Moroni, chapter 7, verse 48, written by Moroni. It reads, "Wherefore my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart that you may be filled with this love which he has bestowed upon all who are true followers of His Son Jesus Christ."

And, oh! As I read it now, I’m starting to cry! Because the implication of this verse is that I must be becoming a true follower of Christ. Thus, He gave me this little bit of charity.

Notice that Moroni says to pray for charity. For many years I've been trying to EARN charity or OBTAIN charity or DEVELOP charity. What I discovered at the park is that God just GAVE me charity. It came from Him.

My question today is, have you experienced a change of heart? Have you experienced Jesus Christ changing your heart beyond what you can do yourself? What was it like?

I call it grace.

Please share in the comments below or send me an email.

I hope you're having a good day!

Keep shining!


Popular Posts