As long as our schedules permit, my friend Brandee and I do a babysitting swap every week. It’s simple: she watches my son for four hours on Mondays and I watch her son for four hours on Wednesdays. Our boys are only six weeks apart and get along famously so this arrangement is a win-win for everyone. Seriously, do you know how much I can get done in four hours?! A. Lot. When we first started swapping, something came up one week and I wasn’t able to watch Brandee’s son. She had already watched Everett that week, and I felt terrible about throwing our swap out of balance. I threw out a few dates and times that I could babysit, insisting over and over again that I “owed” her.
It wasn’t until I had thrown a small fit that Brandee finally confronted me about my guilt. She gently reminded me that I didn’t owe her anything, and that we were both friends and sisters in Christ. She told me that sometimes it would work out for her to babysit more, and sometimes it would work out for me to babysit more.
A friendship that doesn't keep score---what a simple, beautiful idea.
What if instead of keeping score we simply poured into each other as best we could and helped each other with whole, generous hearts?
What if we stopped keeping score in our marriages? Married folks, you know what I'm talking about. Who has emptied the dishwasher more? Who has gotten up with the baby more? Who has folded more laundry? Who has changed more diapers? Whose job is harder? Who is more tired? Who is more deserving of a break?
Keeping score is not only exhausting, it's also the exact opposite of grace. When our favors and acts of service are contingent upon reciprocity, they're not really gifts at all, are they?
Brandee was right about our swap. Sometimes it has worked for her to babysit more and sometimes it has worked for me to babysit more. When I was having a rough week last month, she brought me flowers. When she had the stomach flu a few weeks ago, I brought her soup and popsicles. Whoever is in need always receives help; it's a natural give and take. Letting go of my desire to keep our babysitting swap perfectly "even" was a worthwhile, albeit slow process. Our friendship grew because of it, as did my overall attitude about helping friends.
I know we're in the middle of February and resolutions have come and gone, but today I'm making a new one:
I want 2014 to be the year I throw away the scorecards.
So what if I change more diapers? So what if I text a friend 3x more often than she texts me? So what if I did someone a huge favor and never got a thank you card?
Let's let it go. Let's accept help when it's offered to us without the guilt of owing anything back. Let's throw out the scorecards and put forth our best hearts with nothing but generosity as our intention. Let's offer help when help is needed and accept help when we are the ones in need. We don't need to count or check boxes or make sure the scale is balanced---it's okay to let it tip back and forth over time through different seasons.
After all, if Christ wasn't keeping score on the cross, who are we to keep score of anything?