During a recent “decompressing event” (definition: me letting out a bunch of stress by talking about the stressors over and over again to my patient husband), my husband told me that he thinks that sometimes God allows difficult people in our lives in order to teach us something. Like how not to act. Ha, ha….but seriously…..often the very thing about someone else that so tries me becomes “the way I don’t want to be.” Have you ever seen this in your own life with difficult people?
A friend who always made glib sarcastic remarks about me or my family or my kids has made me more aware and careful about how I joke around with my friends. I catch myself–sometimes before I say it, sometimes after–joking around and then I have to apologize for being insensitive. It makes a person feel like garbage when someone thoughtlessly makes fun of them. Of course. But I wouldn’t have realized the full impact that even a joking manner can have if I had not been hurt so many times by a friend’s careless words.
When we have been given a heavy dosing of guilt or have felt manipulated by someone close to us, both my husband and I pray in earnest that God would help us keep our promise to never do that to our loved ones. Sometimes the best reaction to a situation is to determine how to avoid causing the same kind of hurt to someone else.
I got a phone call from a friend today who asked to borrow a table for her garage sale. I cheerfully agreed she could come pick it up, but later felt an awful churning of realization. The only few times this friend has called me in the last YEAR (we used to talk almost weekly) was to take pictures of her family (for which she never paid me, as agreed) and then to find out if my daughter could go to her daughter’s birthday party (which resulted in my friend crying on the phone because no other little kids could make it, either), and then finally, for this table. THREE times in the last year and always to her gain, not to credit our friendship or even just to check in. I felt incredibly used and that alone feels uncomfortable and unsettling. Watching the phone call unfold (and being aware of the recent history of this friendship) my hubby, in what is becoming our usual response, felt reminded of a buddy of his that he hasn’t made much of an effort to see in the last year or so. I, too, tried to consider relationships where I may be doing the same thing. I don’t want to be that name on caller ID that warns a person: “She’s calling! She wants something!”
On rainy days I mull over these things and ask God what it is that He wants to show me. I try to sort through the irrational (“Am I the bad person in this situation? Should I have been calling this friend more often and then I wouldn’t feel this way? Did I do something?!”) and the ungodly (“What a bunch of jerks! I’m SO gonna leave this relationship out to dry. And maybe their world can fall apart in the meantime if they keep treating people this way!”). I want to hear the quiet voice of God that reminds me of the grace that He has shown me–the kind of grace that I can show others only with His help. In the last day or two, I have been whispering this mantra in my head, “More grace. More grace. More grace.” God’s mercies are new and abundant, not just for me, but are there for all to receive. I need to be less discretionary in my giving of mercy because ultimately it’s not even mine to give. It was already given by One much greater than me to one as undeserving as me. Should I not give as I have been given?