Worry comes naturally for me. If you ever need me to worry about something for you, just let me know. I’m already up until the wee hours wondering if I have enough air pressure in my tires? Was the truck making a funny noise this morning? Pffft. That’s the easy stuff in comparison to the relational worries that create cobwebs in my brain.
– What if someone has subtly conveyed judgements concerning me and I’m unable to defend myself?
– Or worse, what if I said something hurtful and we never got a chance to work through it? Maybe I was jealous or spoke out of frustration and yet those words are lodged in the foundation of our relationship now. I have a few of those scattered around the world so don’t tell me I’m being ridiculous.
You’ll have to agree that neither of us lives our lives in such a way that everything we say is lovely, and every bit we contribute is graceful.
Oh be real, would you? I am over here plowing my way through this life trying to avoid bludgeoning people with sharp objects when I don’t get my way. It’s not polite to scratch people’s eyes out when they are not nice. Mama told me to be a lady. And so that is what I am. But it doesn’t mean the “want-to” goes away …
Maybe you are a better person than I, but it’s there in the midst of that heap of words uttered and opinions undefended that I finding myself longing for God. Big G-o-d. He has to be big because life is messy. And I crave the fresh air and Father-will-sort-it-all-out kind of care that I find in the presence of the Lord. Plain and simple, the stuff that keeps me up at night is just too much for me. I have to trust Him.
Only He can make heads or tails of all that we bring to Him. Only He can cause us to wait quietly for justice, or gently send us back with an apology when the time is right.
He is a God whose nature it is to make all things new.
Have you ever had someone pre-judge you? You know the routine. Before you’ve exchanged ten words with one another you realize that the person you are just meeting has you all figured out. You meet a co-worker for the first time and she decides that you are worthy only of her criticisms for your style of clothing, your hair, your work habits. She decides, and verbally conveys, that you are lacking in class because you ride the bus to work or speak with an accent. Putting on my big-girl panties, I will refrain from evaluating the source of these cutting criticisms. Why? Because, drat it, I have done it myself.
Think about it. You meet someone who is intelligent and has charisma, and he reminds you of the last creep in your life who was handsome, intelligent and had enough freaking charisma to fill an auditorium. You never intended to develop a prejudice, you just did. He looks like, acts like … that other guy. Why would this fella be any different, eh?
Both scenarios require humility that’s got some fish and vinegar in it.
When someone has aggressively criticized you, only you as the offended can really offer them a chance to change their thinking. Make it easy on them. “Hey, I’m just wondering if I’ve done something offensive. Your evaluations of me seem harsh. It seems like you are kind of distressed….”
However, when you’ve quietly held a prejudice in your heart toward someone, it’s a little more difficult. You have to release them from that judgment, and decide in your heart that Big Hank is not Smooth Stanley after all. You would do well to let Big Hank be Big Hank for a while, i.e., not conclude who he is or how he’ll be with you or anyone else.
The point is this. Prejudice really kills friendships. The little overtures of kindness and the laughter that makes the days go by quickly … that’s all a little heap of ashes when we love our selves and our selfish opinions more than letting others be who they are. We suck all the air out of the room by trying to keep our little prejudices alive.
I’m preaching more to myself here, than anyone else, thank you very much. Love still covers a multitude of sins. Give it a whirl sometime.