Frustrations and forbearance

  • You know how it is when you’re going to pass someone you know on the sidewalk. You look away, you look around, you look at the person to see if they’re looking your way, and when at some point your eyes meet, you smile and say hello (or am I the only one who does that? It seems most people do the same thing from my observation.) Last night I was about to pass a man I know on the sidewalk, all ready to say a friendly hello, and he walked right by me staring straight ahead. This happens every time we happen to pass each other. The only time he ever looks at me or speaks to me is when he has to, on business with the groups we’re both involved in, and he seems friendly enough then. I have heard he is really shy, but I’ve often wondered if he actively dislikes me for some reason. I don’t mind not being close personal friends with everyone I know — that’s just not possible for any of us — but if someone seems to dislike you, you can’t help but wonder why and feel bad about it. And in a situation where it feels like you’ve been snubbed, it does hurt a little, even if you tell yourself the other person is shy, maybe didn’t see you, certainly didn’t mean anything by it, etc.
  • A woman I know seems to dwell under an emotional dark cloud all the time. Almost every situation and many an innocent remark is turned to mean something negative against herself. Almost every event she’s involved with at some point will have some kind of drama and crisis and hurt feelings. She doesn’t practice Proverbs 18:24a (“A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly”) yet feels that no one is friendly to her.
  • A man takes a strong and good stand on the side of righteousness, yet even little points where there is room for differences are treated like hills to die on, and any difference from his own view on anything is treated with disdain and condescension. After just reading this morning from Ephesians 4:1-3 (“I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”) I saw an incident between him and another totally lacking in humility, longuffering, forbearance, or grace.

These are all people I’ve known for years (none of them reads my blog, yet I’ve been purposefully vague “just in case”) and with whom a “situation” has arisen within just the last 24 hours, leaving me feeling down and frustrated. The last two did not affect me directly this time, yet seeing the same reactions yet again have stirred up the frustrations of my whole history with them.

The common thread with each situation is that there is nothing I can do about it, except in the first situation I can extend myself and be friendly even if it is not reciprocated. I’m not a confrontational person, even when I should be, but a part of me wants to take each one by the shoulders and say, “Do you realize how you’re coming across?!” I don’t think it is my place to correct the men (the last one does not receive correction from anyone anyway), and the woman would only feel persecuted and misunderstood (I used to think she just needed someone to listen to her and sympathize with her, but that doesn’t work).

I can pray, of course. Not the complaining type of prayer (“Lord, would you please speak to so-and-so about this…”). But the type of prayer Paul prayed in Ephesians 3:

14 For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,

15 Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,

16 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;

17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,

18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;

19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.

20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,

21 Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

The goal isn’t for so-and-so to get whatever problem they have fixed (so that it doesn’t rub me the wrong way any more — an entirely self-centered focus), but rather that “we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13).

I can exercise forbearance in love as mentioned earlier in Ephesians 4:2. One former pastor used to call forbearance “just good old-fashioned putting up with one another.” And we’re not just to “grin and bear it”: we’re to forbear one another in love. We’re all going to have our faults and failings until we get to heaven and if we don’t know how to interact with love and forbearance and grace, we’re all going to be pretty miserable…not to mention a poor testimony to others. We’re commanded to love others as Christ loved us, and He loved us “while we were yet sinners.”

And I can remember, work on, and pray over my own faults. I have plenty to deal with without worrying about anyone else’s. There’s probably something I do or don’t do that sets someone else to stewing sometimes.

I am sorely tempted to delete this, now that I’ve gotten it out of my system. But I think I’ll leave it, for now at least. All is not always rosy here in the land of Stray Thoughts, and I want to “keep it real,” as they say. And we all have to deal with this type of thing, so maybe my reasoning with myself here will be a help to someone else.

14 thoughts on “Frustrations and forbearance

  1. Oh leave it, it is such a good message. Thank you for the great reminder on what our perspective should be in dealing with difficult individuals.

  2. I’m glad you left it. I have a similar situation right now as you with the first man (only it’s with a group) so I know how you feel. It’s frustrating and no one like to thinks that “maybe it’s me…”. But we all go through this type of thing and you know what? It does hurt a little bit.

  3. I’m glad you didn’t delete it. It is a message we all can use. You are not alone in feeling this way, that’s for sure!!!

    I found you through momblogs and I’m glad I did!

  4. I’m glad you kept it, because it’s a good reminder of how to pray for people. I remember reading those verses as I read through the Bible this year, and marking them as how I want to pray for people. I need to go back and probably memorize them so they get down in my heart where the Holy Spirit can use them! Thanks for this entry, Barbara!

  5. For the shy guy, maybe you should try to make earlier eye contact as you approach him, and say, “Hi” sooner than you normally would. That way he has time to get up his nerve to respond. I doubt if he dislikes you; you said he is shy. That’s a painful way to live

    Now, about Sister whiney, I don’t know what else you could do!

  6. I think we all know people who are somewhat like the ones you describe–your admonition to respond and pray in a godly way from God’s Word is a great encouragement! May God work these situations for good because you love Him! I will be praying for them too!
    Blessings to you!
    Claudia O.

  7. I think the shy guy probably just IS that… my youngest son can NOT make eye contact with people…. it almost kills him when he has to! I can easily see him doing the same thing. Do I think it’s RUDE? Yes. But I’m just saying I can understand it. I’ve had people do it to me… and sadly I’ve even done it to others too… sometimes I just don’t “feel” like stopping and chatting. (not an excuse – just an explanation…)

    But the fact that you understand you can’t DO anything about these situations — except pray — and you have the right kind of prayer in mind… maybe these situations were put in front of you for that very purpose! Maybe these folks need some prayers.

  8. Hi Barbara, I’m glad you shared this. I had always wanted to rant about something similar in my office but never got the courage to do it.

    This man, who is someone ‘up there’ in the management level, seems to treat me like I have some sort of disease. When I greeted him “Good morning” he doesn’t reciprocate. When I bumped into him at lunch time and said “Hi Mr X” he looked at me and gave me ‘a look’. I kept acknowledging him because I simply can’t pretend I didn’t see the person in front of me when I do see him, but he seems to think I’m ‘not good enough to be acknowledged’ by him. It does hurt each time he does that to me but what else can I do? I just have to swallow my pride and continue living (kind of dramatic when I put it this way).

    It’s just tough when you try to be a nice person and the other person doesn’t care.

  9. I think you make a good point on how to pray for the person. And I do think shy people often act the way of that first individual–I used to be that way because I felt so awkward or didn’t want to seem foward–but someone did speak to me about it because they thought I was being a snob! It made a difference to me–it helped me to see that in a way , my shyness was selfish—I was thinking more about me than them.

    I also know someone like the second individual. …the Ephesians prayer is so appropriate.

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  11. This was a good post. I’m pretty sure we all have several people like this in our lives. I started to think, though, what do others see when they see my behavior. Thinking I need to really work on this. Both the praying and the behaving.

    Thanks for the thoughtful, thought-filled post.


  12. The first situation is difficult. If you know the person well and they walk by like they do not even recognize you, I know this must concern you. I think I’d have to ask him abou it.
    The woman you mentioned in the second senario is a lot like my older sister, very negative and taking everything as a slight against herself. I don’t know that we can help them to change, only pray for them. Negative people are a drain on others and this has a bearing on their ability to make and keep friends. I think it is best that we not spend much time with them as they drag us down, too.

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