I was doing her a favor, and she vomited all over me… not the physical, the spiritual kind (both are disgusting!). On my way, I was enjoying some worship music, and the atmosphere around me felt very peaceful. When I arrived, she swung the car door open, acted very dissatisfied with they way I had helped her, and in no uncertain terms, let me know it. I drove away feeling irritated and a little bit mad. So, because I’ve been actively trying to remember to ask Jesus to weigh in on my daily life situations, I asked Him, “What do I do with that?” And a phrase from my self-talk card came to mind, “I will offer others the grace to be and the room to become. I will offer mercy.” I pondered how I could practically do that right then, and the prayer “Fix her! I can’t fix her!” came to my mind.
It was a relief to just release her and that whole confrontation to God. I didn’t want to let her frustration interfere with my peace. I didn’t need to be right. I didn’t have any desire to defend myself or to try to make her “see the light.” I just let the Only One Who can change a heart have at it.
Maybe part of the reason we get frustrated with other people is because we think our primary role in other people’s lives is to fix or correct them. I love this sentiment that I recently read in a novel: “People are for loving and for loving you back. But God is the place to put your heart, soul and mind. He’ll never let you down.”1
Looking back over the hurts and frustrations of my life, I realize I have given people what rightfully belongs to God: my heart, soul and mind. I’ve been hurt because I trusted people with my heart. I’ve been disillusioned because I trusted them with my passions and dreams. I’ve been fearful because I trusted them with the things I’ve been thinking about. Those things, those deep-down, personal things, belong to God.
The love you offer people isn’t the same love you offer to God. The Scriptures don’t say “love your neighbor with your heart, soul and mind.” They say, “love your neighbor as yourself.2”
Generally, people take care of themselves. For instance, on a physical level, I eat because I need the energy (and sometimes I just like the taste of a maple doughnut!). On an emotional level, I say encouraging things to myself because I want to live out God’s calling on my life. Do I do the same, beneficial, positive things for others, or do they dread my presence because I act like all I want to do is fix them?
I got into a bad habit of correcting my teenage daughter all the time, but not showing much love. I wondered why she was being so difficult. Why it was so hard to feel close to her. Why she lashed out in “sassiness.” Thankfully, God showed me I needed to back off in the area of correcting her (unless it was really important) and use most of my words throughout the day loving her and encouraging her. It worked. Our relationship changed, and when those times came up that I needed to correct her, I felt like she was listening.
When people irritate or hurt us, they are malfunctioning. When people create chaos in other people’s lives, they are not living out who they were created to be. It’s no accident Jesus said the world would recognize us as His disciples because of our love for one another.3 Love is the distinguishing factor between me and a non-believer…or, it should be. If I could just remember that people are failing to function “normally” when they treat me unkindly or say something nasty, I’d be able to quickly forgive and turn my attention to figuring out a way to love them. Instead of nursing my wounds, I could then ask Jesus to fix them!
One practical way I love others as myself is by reading a “self-talk card.” Though it primarily reminds me of the person I want to be, it also guides me in my daily interactions. Towards the end is the phrase I mentioned earlier, “I will offer others the grace to be and the room to become. I will offer mercy.” It reminds me who I’m created to be (the “lover” not “The Fixer”), and it reminds me how to love others: letting them be who they are and praying that they will become the person God created them to be.
Thankfully, I’ve got people in my life who offer me the grace to be and the room to become. I think they’ve figured out that God is the true fixer, and I know for sure I’ve caused them to pray the same prayer I prayed that day: “Fix her! I can’t fix her.” That’s how it works. We give God our love by sharing our hearts, souls and minds with Him, and then, we let Him be the fixer of other people because, “People are for loving and for loving you back.”
May others know Whose we are by our love for one another.
Questions for Reflection:
• Do you do the same beneficial, positive things for others that you do for yourself, or do they dread your presence because you act like all you want to do is fix them?
• How would making the distinction between how we are supposed to love God and people change your daily interactions?
• How could you offer a difficult person “the grace to be” and “the room to become”?
1 Cindy McCormick Martinusen, Winter Passing (Tyndale House Publishing, Inc, 2000) 28.
2 “But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:34-40) These 2 commandments represent the essence of the all the commands. If you could take all of God’s instructions to us about how to live in relationship with Him and with God and boil them into one thing that would guide you, it would be love. Also see Leviticus 19:18, Galatians 5:14, James 2:8 and Romans 13:9-10.
3 See John 13:35.
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