Some people rub me wrong, like stroking a cat’s fur against the grain.
I sit and bite my tongue and sort of smile to myself that someone can just be so aggravating.
I nod and smile and wonder how in the world these people can stir me up so much.
I’ve called myself laid-back. But at that moment, I feel about as easy-going as a coiled-up cobra.
So my eyes sort of roll back in my head and whether it is that person with the voice that grates or that one that sounds like Eeyore in the flesh, I start counting the minutes until I get to rush for the door.
But, the other day, stuck in the presence of a hair-raiser, a thought struck me.
That thought. It interrupted the on-repeat list of complaints rolling through my mind about the person sitting beside me.
That thought. If hearts had knees, the knees of mine buckled in that moment.
That thought. It pierced to that inner place that quivers at God’s thunder.
Before I let my mind ramble on, complaining about another’s inadequacy…
Before I let the words tumble from my mouth, spreading around the discontent as soon as I can make my escape…
Before I start telling God about all the things I dislike about a person…
Have I prayed for that person?
Not a murmured complaint to the Creator, asking what in the world He was doing when he let loose this person to walk the earth.
Not a general “God bless so-and-so.”
A real prayer. A from-the-heart breaking that sees the inner person, sees that hurt behind the mask, sees the insecurity that surfaces as criticism.
Remember that everyone you meet is afraid of something, loves something, and has lost something.
– H. Jackson Brown Jr. –
A prayer that understands the value of that person in the sight of God, that treats them as a precious jewel.
So, before you start the inner rant against that person that makes you bristle, what do you do?
Humble your heart and see that your complaints aren’t any holier than theirs just because you keep yours to yourself.
Marvel, because God gave you to that person in that moment, to build them up. Stop thinking about how depressed they are making you and start praying for wisdom. Pray for a gift to give.
In that moment, your Eeyore-like companion may just need a smile and an “I know you can do it.”
When the nails-on-the-chalkboard acquaintance starts to speak, maybe they need someone to really listen.
When eternity is weighed against that moment, the gift you could give that person matters so much more than how you feel.
Pray for wisdom to speak right words.
Pray for love for the one who makes you wonder how you could ever give back good for evil.
Pray for that person. Pray to really see, to understand the pain and the joys of another life. Pray for their spiritual growth. Pray that they would find satisfaction, fullest joy, in the Jesus who can make them whole.
Pray for yourself. For heart-change in the depths of you. For eyes to see past an exterior into a heart. For strength to give when all they do is take.
And, blogger Emily Freeman says maybe the way we give ourselves can make all the difference:
“What if the art we make – whether the work of our hands, the words of our mouth, the simple movement towards others in our ordinary days – what if these are the ways Jesus wants to show Himself to a weary world?
What if the art you make and live is a daily grace God has in mind for someone else?”
– Emily Freeman –
Don’t know quite how to pray, where to begin? The apostle Paul can give you a way to start:
“For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He had delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.”
– Colossians 1:9-14, NKJV, emphasis mine –
Amen, and amen. So let it be.