I’m going to stray from the theme a little bit here today.
Today was…well, I guess I’ll just tell the story. I work with a person that, to choose a biblical theme, is a thorn in my side. Or this person is just God’s test in my life to teach me how to love when I feel totally incapable of loving. Patience when I have none. Wisdom when I want to have the last word.
Today I failed. I have no patience, no love, no compassion. Or, very little at least. Most times I try to be amicable, to acknowledge this person’s presence and communicate normally, but generally at least a few times a day, I snap a little, make a comment here and there. Today this person confronted me and asked what my problem was. I told. I told and it got tense and then we didn’t speak to each other for awhile. As crappy as I felt thinking I was unable to deal with this person anymore, I felt worse afterward. I wished I hadn’t said anything. Even if what I said is true…the fact is that I so badly want to force this person to change. I want to say, “hey you! Have a different personality please. Thanks!” It’s like, the more I realize it’s my decision to be the bigger person, to shrug things off and move on with my day, the more difficult it is for me to do so.
During my lunch break, before today’s incident, I was reading in Kathleen Norris’s “Amazing Grace” the chapter on tolerance/forbearance. She talks about the two different kinds of zeal, one which is bitter and divisive and one which is acts of love. She quotes St. Benedicts thoughts on this: “They should each try to be the first to show respect to the other, supporting with the greatest patience one another’s weakness of body or behavior.” Um, ouch? While I realize he was discussing the monastic life, I think it still applies. Every day I have to work and interact with people. People different from me. People with different walks of life that got them to where they are that particular day. Benedict says that “thorns of contention” spring up every day when trying to live with other people. Norris writes, “Continually asking God to forgive us as we forgive others warns us away from the vice of self-righteousness and also lack of love.”
So…keep in mind I had just read this before I responded with total lack love, without patience or respect to this person’s weakness of body or behavior. I write all this because although I know there are many different paths to deal with this person and this situation as a whole…I honestly don’t know where to go from here. If anything, what I have learned today is that it’s easy to love people who are lovable. It’s very very difficult – seemingly impossible – to love the people who I deem unlovable.