- 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.