A Slice Of Life To Go is an online Christian blog written by Todd Thompson. It encourages people to see the beauty in ordinary moments and to know God’s unconditional, unfailing love in everyday life.

“The X Factor”

August 4th, 2006

Anyone you know that’s not acting like themselves this week? Someone who doesn’t seem like they’re on top of their game?

They say, “What you see is what you get.” Rarely is that true when it comes to people. For most of us, life is like an iceberg. The bulk of what’s there is below the surface. Unseen.

Call it the “X Factor”. Every person has an X Factor. At least one piece of information, a current or past life experience, that is unseen yet has a bearing on who we are and how we act. There is always more to us than meets the eye. Sometimes the more is good. Sometimes the more is bad. Sometimes the more is sad. Sometimes the more is a permanent scar on our heart that, like a bad tattoo, we can’t get rid of.

You may know her as the Mom whose kids attend all the events but she never volunteers to help with anything. And it bothers you. In your opinion, she’s always taking and never giving. What you don’t know is that she has no time to volunteer because she gets no support from her husband and she’s essentially raising the kids by herself.

You may see him as the guy always cracking jokes at the office, the guy who can never seem to be serious about anything. What you don’t know is that his humor is a cover and an escape from a miserable home life where he’s married to a bitter and contentious woman.

You may know her as the classic Type A perfectionist that drives everyone crazy with her unrealistic expectations. What you don’t know is that she grew up never once hearing her Dad say “I love you” and has spent her entire life trying to earn her approval from others by being a high achiever.

You may know him as the workaholic who spends 70 hours a week at his job. What you don’t know is that as the oldest of 5 kids he was thrust into the role of making money for the family as a teenager when his Dad died. He’s spent his whole life in fear that the same thing could happen to him and the only thing he knows to do is to work.

You may know her as a friendly, funny, talented person that everyone loves to be around but no one ever really seems to get to know. What you don’t know is she has struggled her entire life with deep feelings of insecurity and low self-worth. Keeping others at a distance is a defense mechanism that allows her to control how close people get. Because, in her mind, if people really knew her, they wouldn’t like her.

There’s always an X Factor. A story within the story. It’s true for you. It’s true for me. It’s true for everyone. The best reason to extend grace to one another is because we can’t fully know what another person is going through. It doesn’t mean we check our brains at the door when dealing with people. We need to be wise and discerning. Yet since we don’t know what the X Factor is, we would be wise to lead with grace. Because when we lead with grace, we open the door to relationship.

The people you and I live by and work with and drive by and exchange glances with in the store are people just like us. We’re all carrying around the baggage that comes with living in a fallen world. We all have an X Factor that no one knows about that influences who we are and how we interact. And we’re all looking for a safe place to dump all our stuff out on the table and say, “Here it is. I’ve got broken pieces and missing parts and I need someone to help me sort it out and put it together because I can’t do it on my own.” Let’s be the people who extend grace. The people who pull alongside and say, “You’re not alone. You should have seen all the stuff I dumped on the table. Let me help you sort it out.”

We’re all in process. The good news is that God has promised to never stop working on us. When we extend grace, we allow ourselves to be used by God to help one another grow.

Remember the X Factor. Extend grace.

We all need it.

“For I am confident that He (God) who began a good work in you will continue to perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 1:6