Sometimes the little human birds we pat on the head turn and bite us… What then?

Last week I argued in one of my blog posts (5/20) and in my 5/25 Sunday religion column for the Champaign-Urbana News Gazette that we need to return to head patting among our flock.  Just like Linus in the Peanuts cartoon who pats birds on the head.

I said people are desperate for love, affirmation, encouragement, understanding.  And they are.

But what do you do when one of the birds you pat turns around and bites you?

That happened to me today.  I was firm with a person I know well and said, “Look, I love you.  I think this is best.”

Well, the little human bird I patted immediately shot back at me: “You’ve told me before that you love me.  Are you just trying to get me to do it your way?  I’m going to do this my way.  It’s worked for me in the past, and it will work now.  You can quit trying to convince me that this is all because you love me.”

Oookay…  Pretty clear, wouldn’t you say?

Hmmm, I thought, exhaling all the air from my lungs.  What to say now?

In a very low-key quiet voice I merely replied, “I’m sorry you feel that way.  Do you  have anything else to say to me?”

“Nope, not to you.”

“Let’s talk later then,” I said.

“We’ll see.  I’m going to hang up now.”

That was it.  The conversation and the call ended.

What did I do?  … Sighed deeply, more exhaling…

There are so many times we do our dead-level best, and our best just doesn’t seem good enough.  Boy do we need grace … so much grace.

I guess that’s the point, isn’t it?  We do our best and our best rarely is good enough.  God’s grace comes in … lifts us up … and gives us hope. 

Through many dangers, toils and snares we have already come.  Grace has brought us thus far; and grace will bring us home, in spite of our sighs and exhaling…

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