by Kay Etheredge

My husband recently installed security cameras in our home.  He had given me the security system as a Christmas gift and then decided we didn’t really need it but we kept it so long that it couldn’t be returned.  Then we heard about some break-ins in our community and decided we may as well use what we already had.  Unfortunately when he decided to install it, it was the middle of July.  He had to go into our attic to run the wiring and I was concerned that he might get too hot.  Our youngest daughter is home for the summer and she and I needed to run some errands and I didn’t want to leave thinking Jim could be in danger.  He assured us he would be fine and we left to do our errands.

We returned maybe two hours later and even joked as we drove home that we hoped we wouldn’t find Jim passed out in the attic.  It was a very hot day.  We parked in the driveway and began to walk up our front walk when Jim came running out of the house.  His face was blood red, he was drenched in sweat, and he was angry.  He waved his arms and said, “Were you trying to play a joke on me?  It’s not funny!”

Jane and I gave each other bewildered looks and I think it was an unspoken idea that the heat had, indeed, gotten to him.  I think I spoke first and asked, “What are you talking about?”

“Every time I go up the ladder and get into the attic the doorbell rings”, he said.  “And then I come down the ladder and nobody is here!”

We assured him that we had actually just gotten in and we had not given the first thought to playing a trick on him.  I then asked the most obvious question, “How would someone even know you were in the attic?”

He stood there a moment and then asked a rhetorical question.  “Could it be that I’m shorting out the doorbell wire when I crawl across the attic?”

He walked back inside, still sweating and now a little bewildered and Jane and I couldn’t hold in our laughter.  We said we wished we had been flies on the wall to see his reaction each time he thought someone was ringing the doorbell.

This is a funny story and our family (at least some of us) will snicker about it for years.  But isn’t it easy in life to make wrong assumptions?  Life can be hard and relationships can be complex and it is such a fleshly thing to assume that someone doesn’t like us, is avoiding us, said something purposely to hurt us, or other scenarios we can dream up.   It happens in the best of families, in our churches, and sadly at Brother Bryan Mission among the guys here.  When you get this many men living under one roof there are bound to be misunderstandings which can sometimes lead to pushing, shoving, and even blows.  It is heartbreaking to hear of someone who is otherwise a sweet person being dismissed for losing his temper.

I read a quote last week that said, “The person who has great peace of heart pays no attention to either praise or blame”.  Having grown up in a family where blame was an art form, I have always struggled with that one.  My husband commented when he first met my family that we were “always trying to assign blame”.  It is something that I have spent years trying to “unlearn” through the power and might of the Holy Spirit, but it is a habit I still struggle to annihilate.  Aren’t there times when we all want to blame someone else when in reality we are “ringing our own doorbells”?

I read in a book of prayers this week two questions that I have meditated on all week.

Am I demanding of others a higher standard of conduct than I demand of myself?

Am I taking a less charitable view of the feelings of my neighbors than I am of my own?

Please pray for the men of Brother Bryan as they live together in community and as they learn to walk in a Christ-like way.  For many of them it is a brand new concept to put others ahead of self, to bow low and as singer Michael Card says, “take up the basin and the towel”, to live the life of a servant and to be able to laugh at our own silliness instead of making a fist or pointing a finger.

May God help each of us to walk worthy of our calling and to seek daily the light that only He can give.