I've told this story to several of y'all recently, but a friend of mine encouraged me to tell it here just one more time!
Several years back, my friend Margaret* and I met up for dinner. She had recently moved about a bazillion miles away... okay, okay, so maybe that's a slight over exaggeration. She moved from McKinney to North Fort Worth. But it felt like a bazillion miles away.
So, we met-up in Lewisville for a night of catching up. I was so excited to have a break from my mothering duties AND getting to see one of my bffs. It promised to be a night of belly-aching laughter.
Needless to say, I was so not excited when a woman came in with a young child, and they were seated directly next to us. And I really wasn't happy when said child began, promptly and continuously, to scream and carry-on. and on. and on. and on. And she didn't even look like she cared a flying-flip!!!
I mean... COME. ON. This was my one break! Throw me a bone already!
And when my friend Margaret went to the restroom, I just... looked at that woman (admittedly, I probably had a bit of scorn in my eyes) and that screaming child. And then I decided that when Margaret got back to the table that she and I would play our "Probably" game... but this time, with a twist.
BACKGROUND: What IS The Probably Game?
Margaret and I have played "The Probably Game" since I can remember. Honestly, we originally started it to "lessen" people who, in our minds, appeared perfect. I know that makes us sound like... well, like the kind of girls that no one would want to be friends with... but is more than likely because both of us tend to hide our insecurities under a veil of humor. But, here is one of my first memories of an example of "The Probably Game":
Margaret went with me to the Acura car dealership because I had fallen hopelessly in love with their RSX and my other car had been obliterated by a woman from Georgia in a mini-van (but that's a story for another day). Anyway, there was this guy at the Acura dealership who was all dressed up in his rich-boy finery and was there to test-drive an Acura NSX (a car that, at the time, went for roughly ninety-grand... wait, sorry... the words just aren't as powerful as the actual number... $90,000... for a car. for a college kid. Seriously... just LOOK at all those zeros!!!)
So, Margaret and I, in a state of half-jealously and half-disdain made up a scenario for this young bloke: "Probably... he is the heir to a fortune made entirely off of the sales of toilet paper, and probably he has no friends (which is precisely why he is buying this car) and probably in two years we'll see him begging under the bridge at Harry Hines with that NSX as his only companion."
I know, I know... not super nice, but really it was more funny to us than anything. But anyway, back to our dear friend at the restaurant with the screaming child...
When Margaret got back to the table, I motioned my eyes over at the woman and said, "Probably... probably her husband was deployed to Afghanistan and he has been there for six months. Probably, her dad sent her a gift card to this restaurant because he had it laying around the house and he doesn't like to go out to eat since his divorce, and probably this is the first time that she has had a meal cooked for her and served to her by someone else in the past half-year."
Margaret, of course, picked up immediately... "Probably... her child has an ear infection in both ears and has been screaming all week. Probably, she has an appointment with the pediatrician tomorrow and she won't be able to pay because all of their money is wrapped up in paying for their house payment."
And for the rest of the evening, every time we heard that baby cry. every time she looked apathetic to the screaming in her ear. every time the waiter filled up her iced tea. every time... we looked over at her in empathy. When the baby would scream, yet again, we often remarked to each other, in our oblivious "probably" state, how much we appreciated what the troops were doing overseas.
Soooo, yeah, we made all of that up. I mean... who knows, maybe it was true. But we were just guessing at things that probably would make us feel understanding, empathetic, considerate... instead of annoyed, judgmental, and condescending.
And in the time that has followed that dinner-out, I have used "The Probably Game" hundreds of times... mostly to help me identify with someone that might otherwise annoy me, or anger me, or hurt me. And it works. so. well. And I have just recently come to understand that it works because I am trying, in my human way, to tap into the way that Jesus sees people. For example, the woman at the well (John 4:6-30,39-42)... Jesus knew her situation... He knew that she had been with a whole bunch of guys. He knew that she was hurting. He even knew what had gotten her into that situation.
Yeah, but newsflash... I'm not Jesus. I don't know what an.y.one. is going through. I don't know where they have been. I don't know who has hurt them. abused them. slandered them. teased them. And since I don't know sometimes it's so difficult to feel empathy and compassion... so that's where "The Probably Game" comes into play in my life and hopefully in your life. It gives me the empathy and compassion of Christ where there was none.
You should probably try it. It will probably work. It will probably help Him... to help you... to help them.
Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Romans 12:18And, if you want to practice, feel free to come up with a "Probably..." for why I am late (again) with my post! Some of you might actually hit the nail right on the head! Ha!
*Names have been changed to protect the not-so-innocent. Hehe!