Years ago, my sister used to tell me to “take my eyes out.” She was referring to the look on my face when things were not going as expected. We used to joke about how I could “raise hell” when things were not going as planned and how most of the time people wouldn’t mess with me because of my RBF (you can google that on your own). I don’t mention this to brag, if anything, I’m ashamed of my past behavior. Instead I mention this to display how far I have come.
Rededicating my life to Christ has been extremely rewarding. I have really focused on having more patience and understanding in less than stellar situations, but something kept eating at me still. I know we all strive to be kind, understanding, and polite on an everyday basis, but what happens when we get really irritated? I know, I know, we are called to have patience in times of frustration, but at what point are we allowed to “lose our cool” as a Christian? At what point are we allowed to be perturbed? Just because we are Christians, does it mean we have to be doormats?
- What happens when someone’s negligence causes an accident?
- What happens when someone’s lack of organization causes you to rearrange your schedule?
- What happens when someone’s lack of followthrough causes you extra work?
- What happens when someone’s lack of attention to detail causes an unsantificatory finished product?
- What happens when someone’s lack of professionalism causes a lost customer?
- What happens when someone’s lack of customer service causes you to waste your time?
I mean, do I really have to smile and say, “ I understand, It’s not a problem.” When honestly, I don’t understand and it is a problem… a big problem? Are we called to absorb their inadequacies, because that is “Christ-like”
I took to the Bible to get my answer. I just knew somewhere in the scriptures I would find the free pass to “give people a piece of my mind”. I kept looking for “ Thou are allowed to tell people off when they are consistently inadequate and cause you frustration,” but I was highly unsuccessful. In fact, I uncovered just the opposite, and, in all honesty, it made me upset. Why? Because it uncovered my heart.
This research exposed a whole bundle of self-centered attitudes in me: a critical spirit, a sense of entitlement, a refusal to offer grace, and a prideful heart. OUCH!
From scripture I learned that when I am consumed by someone else’s inadequacy, it is a perfect opportunity to ask, What does this say about me and my heart?
- Could my frustration mean I always assume the worst of others?
- Could my obsession with other business’s flaws say I have a critical spirit?
- Could my disappointment with my friends, kids, and spouse mean I am withholding grace?
Searching my own heart was no picnic. I did not start this blog thinking I would end up here. Like I said before, I really thought, I would have a right to “complain” and “be frustrated” but through scripture I received something even better: examination, conviction, and now, transformation.
I believe It’s normal to feel irritated and upset with other people, but God wants us to learn not to respond in the flesh.
As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:1-3)
Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (Colossians 3:13)
Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. (1 Peter 3:8)
I love how Doug Britton explained it: “responding to others with grace means “bearing with” (or graciously putting up with) people. It means acknowledging that everyone has areas of weakness and that we all are works in progress. It means loving people in spite of their personalities, habits, and faults.
Through prayer, I am starting to see my disappointments and frustrations in a new light. I have been praying that I no longer use these incidences as opportunities to expose where others lack, complaining and pointing out how their inadequacies have put me out or caused unwanted stress. I instead have asked God to use these moments as opportunities to uncover impurities in my own heart, so I may be the salt and the light!
Bear with me though, I’m not perfect!