People are funny, seemingly fickle creatures. Why are they the way they are? What makes them tick? What is their life story, and how does it relate to who they are today? Where does their faith lie?
I often ponder these things when people act in a way that I don’t fully understand.
Today my family was just leaving the checkout line of the hardware store when a clerk, seeing my kids straggling behind, said something that caught me off guard. We had just been there to pick up paint chips to paint something at home, and when I told him that as we walked by, he said “Just don’t leave your kids behind. I’ve already raised my kids!”. He sounded serious, and gruff, although he may have had a very slight smile on his lips. Was he joking? Was raising his kids that awful an experience for him? If so, how sad. I really don’t know, and I probably never will. But all I can do is care about him, and pray for him.
I used to work behind a photo counter years ago. A man came in to drop off some film at prom time. “How long will it take?”, he asked. “About fifteen hours”, I responded calmly. “But, but this is one hour photo! Why can’t I have it in an hour?” he demanded, red faced. I calmly pointed to the counter behind me where at least 75 rolls of undeveloped film sat in photo bags. “It’s prom time, and they were first, so I have to develop their film before yours.” He wasn’t happy, but he didn’t treat me too badly. As I remember, he sulked, and walked out.
There are so many things that people do and say, that make you wonder, what is their problem? Why are they treating me that way?
Sometimes the way that people treat us has less to do with us personally, and more to do with them. Maybe is was something seemingly insignificant that we said that touched a deep wound inside them. Maybe we said one thing, and it caused them to draw a conclusion about us that is way off. Maybe we are part of a group of people that they have some deep seated grudge against. Maybe they are just that way with everyone as a defensive wall between themselves and others because something hurt them that bad, maybe years or even decades earlier. Or maybe we did say something that hurt them, but we are blissfully naive about it, while it is something that really bothers the other person. And they are unwilling to talk with us about it.
We really have no control over the words and actions of others, but we do have a choice in our words and actions. I am not perfect, but I am working on leaning on the side of grace in these situations.
A wise pastor once told me about the importance of leaning on grace. He said that when others question you as to how you feel about something, that you should always ask why. It is then that you will have a greater understanding of where they are coming from, and you can then give an appropriate answer. I think that this concept applies not only to our answers to others’ questions, but also to our responses to others’ actions. We are not always happy about what others do and say, but the way we act has a great potential to make things better, or much worse.
For me, I am striving to reach out to those that I hurt, and those that hurt me. Life is too short to hold a grudge, or seek revenge against someone! Recently I actually have had the chance to extend forgiveness to a couple people from the past. It was a good thing. My wish is that I would make right, within God’s will, where I have wronged. And that I would willingly extend to those that have hurt me the grace that I have found through others.
Blessings, and grace to all of you as we remember those lost that September 11th nine years ago . . . click here for "Revelation-September 11th Tribute" video.