How do we choose to be measured?

By Vinal Van Benthem | For The Compass | February 20, 2019

Leslie was nervous. She had been preparing for this moment all her life. Now it was here. She had been selected to sing a major part with a renowned opera company. It was a dream come true.

On opening night, just minutes before the curtain was to go up, Marjorie, another cast member, found Leslie nervously pacing backstage. “Are you OK?” she asked. All Leslie could do was nod. Her throat felt tight and, to tell the truth, she wasn’t sure that she was OK at all!

Marjorie knew the feeling. Years earlier Marjorie had been the one going through first-night jitters. She remembered that tightness, the feeling that her mouth was lined with cotton. That was when Linda, a woman four or five years older than Marjorie, had stopped to ask how she was doing. Linda’s kindness and concern had been just what Marjorie needed to help her overcome her stage fright.

What Leslie didn’t know – and what Marjorie wasn’t telling her – was that Marjorie had been passed over for the very part that Leslie was to sing. Marjorie knew the piece; she had performed it many times. But the director said she was too old and chose Leslie instead – just as, years earlier, he had chosen Marjorie to replace Linda. Marjorie could easily have taken advantage of this opportunity to kill Leslie’s confidence, to pin her to her nervousness in order to show the director that he had made a mistake. But Marjorie didn’t do either of those things. Instead she lifted Leslie up, as Linda had lifted her.

“God has delivered your enemy into your grasp.” “To you who hear I say, love your enemies … be merciful … forgive … give.” Marjorie loved as she had been loved and gave as it had been given to her, even when it was within her grasp to destroy. Instead of attacking, Marjorie chose to recognize Leslie’s talent and support her. Do we do as much? Are we merciful or judgmental toward those by whom we feel threatened? Do we do to others as we would have them do to us? By what measure do we choose to be measured?

Van Benthem is a longtime pastoral minister in the diocese.

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