Perhaps it’s just me but does anyone else have their fair (or maybe unfair) share of difficult people to deal with?! I’m surprised I have a tongue left since I have to bite it so much to keep from saying what I’d really like to! Oh, the conversations I’ve had or the speeches I’ve rehearsed to these people…all in my mind and after the fact, of course! It’s in moments where they’ve said or done the exasperating; where attempting to engage in a rational conversation about the issue at hand is as impossible as eating chocolate for every meal and staying a size 2! (And if you can do that, you’ve just made my list of difficult people!)
Okay, don’t start wondering who I’m talking about…I’ll never tell! Let’s face it; all of us encounter difficult people in a day. It can be anywhere from someone you know to someone you don’t. You know the ones - the rude cashier, the discourteous driver, the impolite server at a restaurant and let’s not start on those who work at the BMV! I’d rather get a root canal than go to the BMV - it’s much less painful! More and more people have offensive behavior and so the offensive list goes on. The key word is offense. If we’re not careful we can be the ones to get offended and carry around quite a “chip on our shoulder”. Our guard goes up and our walls don’t come down.
There is one solution and I don’t always like it...but I need it. There are times when I want to “say a thing”! Not long ago, I was checking out at a store and the cashier was so rude. It was one thing after another and topped off with, “I can barely read your name on your credit card; I’ll have to see your ID.” Not usually a big deal but she took my driver’s license and examined it like the FBI and held up the picture to my face to make sure we were a match. I was getting embarrassed since it looked like I was a suspicious character trying to use a stolen credit card. Finally, she gave me the okay and then complained that she couldn’t hear me along with a few more things when I asked for a receipt. Yikes, as if! I thought for a minute and looked at her. I wanted to tell her how rude she was and that she should get a job as a prison guard or something! But then I wondered what her life could be like. Was she angry, was she tired, was she in a bad marriage, did she have teenagers (that could make anyone cranky!), was she verbally or physically abused, did she have financial problems? Moreover, could I have compassion instead of anger? Sigh…what would Jesus do?! We know the answer. We may not like the answer but we know it, nonetheless. So I kept my mouth shut, thanked her and wished her a happy weekend. Then I left and remembered the sage wisdom of a friend who told me to “always answer with prayer".
Prayer has a way of adjusting our attitudes. It’s when we approach God that we're reminded that He is love and we were made in that image. We were made in the image of love. In prayer, we open our hearts to receive Him and in His presence so consequently, bitterness, negativity, and offenses can’t remain. Those gloomy feelings melt away in the warmth of the light and love of His reparative presence. If our Redeemer said our sins are cast into “the sea of forgetfulness” then we only have one choice. We have to allow those offenses from others to drown in that sea of redemption and forgiveness too. Where would we be without our Savior’s redemption? (I don’t even want to know!)
Oh, but sometimes this forgiveness thing is so hard! We’re hurt, injured, upset and feel like throwing that offense a life-preserver before it drowns! We need it to stay around a little longer in order to justify our words or actions…um, I admit it - guilty! On the other hand, I’m not saying to be a doormat, but we do need a filter not a fit! When we just stop a minute before reacting, we can let the God in us overpower the “us” in us!
There are times we can tell someone that they’ve said or done something hurtful, especially those we know and have relationships with. It still can’t change our response in the end. We may not get the “I’m sorry” that we want or deserve but we don’t get a “get out of jail free card” either. Our right to be right ended the day we asked Jesus to be Lord; we had to give up the throne!
Yeah, yeah…I get it. "But what about my hurt feelings?" Well, well, well…Your feelings matter because YOU matter. He loves you through that hurt and harm and tends to your wounds and bruises. We must quiet down long enough to think of how we need Him so then, we can let Him. To let means to let go…let it ALL go! God has big shoulders and He can bear anything!
People can be thoughtless and careless for many reasons. Praying for these difficult people keeps our hearts right and therefore, ready to receive from God. I was hurt just this week by someone I care about (and isn't that the hardest kind?). While I was driving, I began to pray and this scripture came to me, “Create in me a clean heart, O God and renew a right spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10 English Standard Version). It worked!
I’ll tell you what happened next week! We’ll also find out who’s doing the fighting in “The War of the Roses”…tune in next week for Part Two!