Sometimes you have to do things you just don’t want to do. Sometimes you have to deal with people you just don’t like. Sometimes you’ll work your tail off for…nothing much. My mom used to call these sorts of scenarios “the breaks.” I’d gripe about this or that hardship in my twelve-year-old life, and she’d reply, “That’s the breaks.” What was most annoying was the smile she often had in her voice, an upbeat note that made me suspect that what was “the breaks” to me was not quite so bad for her.
As if doing something you just don’t want to do or dealing with people you just don’t like isn’t bad enough – then you have someone who is rubbing it in your face! I don’t think she intended that (although I have no proof). But learning how to deal with Mom’s reply of “That’s the breaks” sure prepared me for the less nice versions I get now.
I’ve been reflecting in the last day as to whether Jesus always liked the people He was around. I concluded that if He didn’t, none of us would know. He gets paid the big bucks – he is, after all, our Messiah – to be our example. When he said “love your neighbor as yourself,” I’m pretty sure that’s my clue.
But then I’m reminded of how a grown-up once told me that you can love someone without liking them. Maybe Pontius Pilate is an example. What about the guys holding the whips at the scourging? Or Judas Iscariot?
Jesus was fully human, so I can’t just write Him off as the Messiah who doesn’t know what I’m struggling with. No, He’s in touch with the breaks as much as any of us are. He’s been there, done that, got the t-shirt. When I go to Him, asking for help doing the things I just don’t want to do, dealing with the people I just don’t like, working my tail off for no good reward, He understands. He doesn’t brush me off and tell me to deal with it. He doesn’t shrug and say “That’s the breaks.” He doesn’t ignore my pleading.
Instead, He gives me strength. He points me to the cross, the ultimate in the breaks. He reminds me of His Passion. For that matter, He reminds me of the thirty years he spent just being an ordinary human being, there in Nazareth, working as a carpenter, dealing with people day-to-day.
The more I return to sit at His feet and the more I give to Him to help me carry, the better I will deal with the breaks. The more I pray, the more I can persevere. The more I follow his example, struggling though I may be, the closer I get to being the person He wants me to be.