About a week ago we were out at Lake Merwin in the community swimming pool. It was crowded. Not cess pool of humanity level crowded but there were enough people in the pool I was having to self monitor and preach grace to my soul.
There were two other large families in the pool around us. Both families had a Grandma and Grandpa, a set of parents and a passel of grandkids. The first family looked outwardly a lot like mine. The second family from outward appearances had some differences from my family. Different accent, different religion. This grandma was sitting out the pool and was watching with big brown eyes and a Hindu dot on her forehead.
I was sitting in the pool with my kids and family A - the one who looked like me - started getting rowdy. Grandma was wrestling her daughter and splashing and laughing and causing a raucous. She and her daughter where about to run me over when I quietly moved out of the way. I silently wished people would notice who was around them. But whatever. Its a pool. I was wet already.
Family two - the ones who didn't look like me? They brought out some water guns and started squirting each other. As you are likely aware, water guns squirt water. These kiddos were loud and were in fact getting water on people in the pool to whom they were not related. Including rowdy grandma.
Rowdy grandma was annoyed. I was watching. Remember this is the rowdy grandma who almost ran me over?
Stated rules on the wall said nothing about water guns. Nothing about splashing. Stated rules on the wall did however outlaw pushing and wrestling. Rowdy grandma has broken stated rules but was amped up and about to go off on kids for being annoying to her personal set of rules even though they weren't actually breaking any real rules.
Oh golly. My personal justice meter was ticked off. My husband was actively talking me down.
So here was the conversation that ensued next:
Rowdy Grandma: "Are you members here?"
Water Gun Kids: "Yes".
Me quietly to my spouse: "OH right rowdy grandma. You gonna start out by making this about us and then? The members and the non? You gonna try telling these kids they don't belong here?"
Rowdy Grandma: "Then you know that squirt guns aren't allowed in the pool".
Water Gun Kids: "It doesn't say that on the rule sign"?
Me to my spouse: "RIGHT??? Take that rowdy grandma!!"
Rowdy grandma swam away. I watched. She got out of the pool and went over to the pool employee and tattled on the squirt gun kids. Pool employee looked puzzled. I'm sure she'd seen rowdy grandma too. But she dutifully went over to squirt gun kids and asked them to chill. They moved over to another section of the pool. Rowdy grandma gloated.
AND THEN ROWDY GRANDMA STARTED PUSHING AND WRESTLING ALL OVER THE POOL.
Here is when my husband had to shift into overdrive to keep me from going off on Rowdy Grandma. We talked about how its hard to know when to intervene and went to extend grace. When do you shout down the bully?
So instead I swam to the edge of the pool and approached the water gun Grandma. Here's how this conversation went.
Me: 'I just wanted to let you know I saw how the rowdy Grandma was acting. I think your grandkids were unjustly assigned blame by someone who was being rude herself. Plus the rules dont' say anything about squirt guns."
Water gun grandma: "Ah yes. Thank you. You never know what sort of people you will meet when you go out in public. Sometimes you just have to let things go".
And she shrugged and smiled. Half hour later when her family decided to leave she looked over at us and waved.
I'd been judging everyone in the situation and it wasn't even my fight. But it felt right to connect with and affirm someone's belonging, and share a friendly nod to the good guys.
Really I do struggle with how to respond in situations where something is off in the public square. I think about brave people who stood up and stopped injustice. I think about when Jesus got out his bull whip and overturned the money changers tables in the temple. Sometimes a loud NOT GONNA HAPPEN HERE is absolutely the right response. But I also think about other times when Jesus' response to stop injustice was a quiet connection with a hurting person like the woman caught in adultery or his silent response to questions at his own unjust trial.
In our swimming pool situation my heart recognized grace and love as more powerful than confrontation from the Grandma at the pool's edge. Sometimes we have to let things go. Sometimes love and grace and courage speak loudly and sometimes speak quietly. When my thoughts are swimmings its probably best to shoot a prayer before any action.
What do you think?
I love Jesus. I think my two daughters can change the world. I think you can too.
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