As people come into church on Sunday mornings, I find it interesting to see where they prefer to sit. My daughter usually prefers the very front. Some like to sit near the middle. Others have a preference about which side of the space. Some have a need to always sit in the same seat. Others like to move around to have different seats. Some prefer the balcony rather than the main floor. No matter what a person’s preferences, there is one woman I will probably never forget in regards to her seating preference.
She rarely came to church. She came maybe three times a year. She had grown up in the church, and many of her family members were involved in the life of the church. One Sunday she showed up. It was a surprise. What happened next was even more of a surprise. She went down the aisle to her usual seat, and she found someone else sitting in her seat. She told them that they were sitting in her seat! They were new to the church, and they thought that they had broken some unwritten rule. I was surprised that she even remember where she usually sat since her attendance was so rare. I wondered if she thought her childhood in the church had forever reserved her seat, a strand of once saved, always saved?
While this was highly unusual, I imagine all of us have similar feelings. We want things to be the way that is most comfortable and familiar for us. We want things done our way. We want our seat. We want our brand of toothpaste. We want the toilet paper on the roll in the manner we prefer. We are convinced that we are correct. After all, if it was not the “right” way, then why would we be doing it that way?
When we become rigid in our preferences, then we impede others and ourselves. We make it difficult for others because they must do things our way. We make it difficult for ourselves because we are never able to experience things from a different perspective. Just as the woman was never able to see the worship space from a different seat, so we are not able to see life from a different perspective. Others also do not feel valued if they are constantly having to conform to our way only. We show them their value when we respect their way, even if it is not our preferred way.
Consider how rigid you are in doing things your way. Do you need to be more flexible? Do you need to try sitting in a different seat?