RITE OF PASSAGE: Rights or Relationship!
The other night, my wife and I were meeting another couple for dinner. I wanted to be on my best behavior. I wanted to make a good impression-on them and on . . . my wife.
We met at a well-known barbecue restaurant. The young couple was waiting when we arrived. We shook hands, sat down and began the usual small talk. The young woman told us about her bad day at work. In fact, she had applied for a new job that day. Not only did she not like her job, but she also had to commute a long distance which, with today’s gas prices (here I go again) was taking a big bite out of her income.
My wife and I listened as the couple shared about a recent vacation and showed us their pictures. So far, the evening was going extremely well. When it came time to order, my wife wanted a dinner that would include too much food for her petite appetite. Being a gentleman, I suggested that she order the dinner she wanted. I would order a sandwich and help her finish any extra food.
When our meals arrived, I reached for the barbecue sauce, my favorite condiment. Everything tastes better with barbecue sauce on it! That’s when it happened. While I was picking up the bottle of sauce with my left hand, my wife was picking up a pile of French fries with her right hand, planning to deposit them on my plate. I brought the bottle of barbecue sauce across my plate and it collided with my wife’s right hand. The rest is . . . history.
The next three seconds lasted an eternity. Upon impact with my wife’s hand, a fine stream of barbecue sauce shot out of the bottle. Up and up it went. As it reached its apex, it decided not to come straight down. Instead, it took a left, headed across the table and (yes) landed on the young woman. In one swift motion, I made her bad day even . . . badder. (I apologize to my third grade English teacher for using “badder,” but you didn’t give me a word beyond “bad,” “worse” and “worst.” This event was much worse than . . . worst.)
I sat there frozen, my mouth opened wide in a silent scream. My eyes followed the trail of barbecue sauce. It had crossed the table, bounced into my friend’s tea glass, blasted across her plate and even the vacation photo album. The bulk of the sauce, however, rested on the front of her beautiful beige sweater.
My eyes would not blink. My mouth could not form words. My wife, the proverbial mother, immediately whipped out some wipes to help clean the sweater. This seemed like a great idea, but instead of removing the stain, it smeared the sauce around even more.
I spent the rest of the evening sitting across from this beautiful young woman, now looking as though she had been shot. It was a scene straight from The Godfather. Every few moments, I took a bite of food, looked at her, and said, “I am sorry . . . so sorry.” I offered to have her sweater cleaned. I offered to buy her a new one. The young couple responded so graciously. They kept reassuring me that they knew it was just an accident and that I had not intentionally shot . . . anyone.
The next day, I wrote the young woman a letter of apology and spoke with her on the phone. We even had the young couple over to our home for barbecue with no problems . . . although the wife did sit at a different table than I. She got her new job, and she and her husband are serving on the mission field this week. They have never had a second thought about this incident that caused me so much concern.
The moral of this story? Things don’t always go the way you plan. Sometimes, sauce . . . happens. Even when we put our best hand forward, the barbecue sauce can get in the way. I admire this couple who chose to see the humor in the situation and to . . . forgive.
Has someone wronged you? Has the situation caused stress and turmoil? I believe that you have a choice to make. Do you choose your rights, or do you choose a relationship? If Jesus had demanded His rights, He would never have allowed Himself to be crucified on a cross. He did so because He wanted to have a relationship . . . with you.
What will you choose today? Just make sure it’s not . . . barbecue sauce.