Friday, March 28, 2014

Life Swap

I overheard a couple of managers at the supermarket talking while I was picking out bread. One was suggesting to the other that instead of “Wife Swap,” there ought to be a show called “Life Swap” where people have to switch jobs and circumstances and bills.

I couldn’t help but interject, “That is such a good idea!”

“I know, right?” one of the guys said.

“Yeah, it could be really interesting.”

“And it might not,” the other guy replied.

“Yeah, you’re right,” I agreed. “Imagine if you swapped with someone and didn’t know how to do their job. Or their job was really hard or gross and you didn’t want to do it. It could be awful.”

“Yeah, and imagine all the millionaires who have to try to get by on a regular person’s salary,” the first manager said.

“Well, never mind millionaires, a lot of people with six figure salaries don’t necessarily know what it’s like to make the average wage.”

We all agreed that it certainly would make people a lot more understanding of each other and then went our separate ways.

It got me thinking – I read a book once called Nickel and Dimed:On (Not) Getting By in America. It was about a woman journalist who wanted to find out what it was like to survive on $6 an hour jobs, so she actually left her home, and took the cheapest lodgings she could find, and accepted whatever jobs she was offered. Moving from Florida to Maine to Minnesota, she worked as a waitress, a hotel maid, a cleaning woman, a nursing-home aide, and a Wal-Mart sales clerk. She lived in trailer parks and crumbling residential motels.

This is mostly about money, which to a large degree does dictate your life circumstances, but there are many other factors. What if you had to swap life experiences like health challenges, relationship and family situations, geographic locations, or even race or gender?

We went to see “Son of God” recently at the AMC cinema in Tynsgboro. It was the first time some of us had a chance to experience the new luxury seats. We got there early and got settled in with our drinks and popcorn, and watched previews while the theater filled up. Right before the movie started a party of two sat down behind two of my boys. It was a special needs girl and her mom. The girl had a hard time with typical theater etiquette. The mom tried shushing her but unless it was one of the dramatic, loud scenes, they were very distracting.

I told the boys I was sure they weren’t the only ones annoyed, but given the subject matter of the movie, maybe the rest of the audience was doing their best to practice their tolerance and perhaps we should, too.

When it came up in conversation a few days later, I admitted to the boys, “Yes, it definitely was hard for me to focus on the movie. I was really annoyed until I thought about that family’s situation and how hard it must be to do simple things we take for granted. Then I just imagined what would Jesus do? Would He be annoyed?”


I continued, “And what if that girl was Jesus?”

Again, silence.

Life Swap: wouldn’t it make us all more compassionate and grateful for what we have?

But no one will see it

I set up the nativity in the back yard again this year. In the past it has been out front near the fire hydrant that is on our property, and...