The other day I was getting my hair cut by Mary who’s cut it for several years. We’ve become friends of sorts (as much as you can when you only talk in the beauty shop every 5 weeks) and have shared quite a bit about our lives. I’m not positive where she is in terms of a relationship with Jesus. I think she believes, but maybe has not chosen to nurture that relationship or be part of a faith community, or think much about faith and how it could impact her life. That said, she’s a really good person. 🙂
Anyway, I was thinking after I left, “If she didn’t know I was a Christ-follower (which she does), would ANYTHING in my tone, actions, or reactions, or the content of what I said to her seem different than any other woman who sits in her chair every day?” I mean, how Jesus-y is reading People magazine and talking about movies for Pete’s sake?
That got me thinking about a woman who was in my life many years ago…an informal mentor who had a huge impact on me. A Jesus-like woman who epitomized the verse “Let your speech be always with grace.” Her name was (and is) Coke (short for Colleen) Evans. It’s probably been 20 years since I’ve seen her. Even more than the impact of her words, I carry with me “snapshots”…memories of times when her posture and her expression and her actions shouted “grace” with surround sound clarity.
Snapshot #1. We were at a huge church party in a private home. People helped themselves to food in a buffet line and then spread throughout the large colonial home. I was having a blast. So many fun people and lively conversations. I had gotten my food and was walking down a hallway when I passed a tiny den. There were only two people in the room sitting on a small couch in deep conversation. One was an extremely unattractive, and socially awkward woman. And sitting next to her was Coke, looking at her with love, hanging on this woman’s every word as if she was the most important woman in the universe.
Like Jesus if He had been at the party.
Snapshot #2. There was a concert at church in the downstairs fellowship hall. As I walked in from the back I noticed the man who was the most bitter, mean-spirited man I knew. And he was a vocal critic of Coke’s husband, the senior pastor. But there she was, full of grace, sitting next to him, and leaning in with love in her eyes, caring for him, and listening with single-minded attention.
Like Jesus, if He had come to the concert.
Here’s what strikes me as I think back about Coke, and ask my own question about any possible Jesus-y difference Mary might notice in me: as much as Coke spoke words of grace, it was more powerful that her whole demeanor was one of loving, gracious attention. When she was with you it was like you were the most important person in her world. She would lean in, look you deep in the eyes, lay a gentle hand on your arm and treat you like you were of infinite worth, even though the rest of world might be ready to write you off. More than her words, Coke had a posture of grace. And that’s what made her different.
Kind of like Jesus.
Today I’m asking myself again, “Is there a difference in my life marked by grace that anyone would notice and think of Jesus?” What about you?
Who’s a “Coke” in your life?