Finally, his persistence and its annoyance caused me to stop, ask him again what he wanted, and then get up from my chair. Baxter took off for the bathroom. That was it. He wanted a drink from the spigot. I missed what he was looking for, because I was so absorbed in my own project. It just took a few minutes for him to lap up the running water and be wiped dry, and we were both happy again.
We catch each other in the same kind of predicaments, don’t we? We are so involved in our own concerns, work or interests that we can’t hear or see anything outside of them. Now, ours are not trivial matters. People are counting on us. We should be committed and conscientious about our responsibilities. Research has shown that multi-tasking doesn’t work. We can’t handle two or more things at the same time with equal quality devoted to each. So how are we to blame for missing the messages others want to send us? We have to stand up for what we believe and do our job.
Yes, but we are in this together. Even when we each have our separate roles to play, it’s not a one person play. It’s an ensemble of actors with God as the producer and director. That is how the story of salvation is written and presented, and we get into trouble when we try to rewrite the script or act it out differently.
When we get lost in our concerns, work or interests, we miss the dialogue between characters that gives the play energy and meaning. Not that our part doesn’t matter, it does. But it matters most when it fits into a whole drama of human beings searching together for what makes life valuable and purposeful. Being part of something bigger than ourselves makes our lives bigger than our individual concerns and interests. These expand into shared desires that we help each other refine and fulfill. Our church teaches this kind of theater as the “common good” where God is served when the most are served by many acting together.
We all need to lift our heads out of our private projects from time to time and hear what others are trying to tell us. At first, we may not understand them, but if we stop, notice each other, and listen to other’s concerns, we will form a relationship where our perspective and care will grow. Then we will begin to take their concerns, interests and responsibilities into consideration. It worked with Baxter, and we don’t even speak the same language. Just think what might happen with God’s grace between human beings who do.