The New Year is such a fun time because of the new hope and positive outlook. People challenge themselves and pick up the slack they have let loose over the previous year of not doing their best job at things like eating well or exercising. We all think “I could be a better version of myself if I just…” It’s great! It’s also full of superstitions. Like the one about not doing laundry on New Year’s Day because you will end up doing laundry for the dead. Or my favorite: what you do on New Year’s Day is what you will do all year. Fun, but all superstitions. There is another superstition that doesn’t necessarily have to do with New Year’s Day but definitely has an impact on you becoming a better version of yourself. It is the irrational belief that “people are just mean.”
Have you ever heard someone say that? “Oh people are just so mean these days.” or “she’s just hateful.” Most of the time when something like this is said it is because there was some offense. We are hurt, so we defend our hurt with more hurt. It seems like “an eye for an eye” is built into our natural instinct. When we react this way, we are seeing people through the eyes of anger rather than the eyes of forgiveness. We shouldn’t just let people walk over us, right!? Why should I allow that and how would I even go about doing that?
Jesus consolidates the only two commandments in Matthew 22:37-40, and one of those commandments is to love others. So this is something that brings life for us. It is not about letting someone walk all over you or put you down, it is about forgiving people rather than fighting. The only thing you are really laying down is your pride. In Matthew 10:39, Jesus tells us that if we cling to our own life (pride), we will lose it, and that if we give up our life for Him we will find it. Above, we talked about seeing people through anger in retaliation but that we needed to see people through forgiveness and love. How can we do that?
It starts with the understanding that people are broken. We are all hurting. The same way you are retaliating toward their rudeness, those rude people are likely retaliating to their own issues. If you keep this in mind during any altercation or issue with someone, you equip yourself with what you need to forgive them rather than attack them back. Imagine how your view of someone changes in these scenarios based on each perspective:
Anger-This service person was just rude to you on the phone…BUT YOU PAY ALL THIS MONEY AND THAT AIN’T HAPP’NIN’! You respond based on your loss.
Forgiveness-This service person was just rude to you on the phone…but people are probably yelling at them all day long. They didn’t mean anything by it. You respond based on their loss.
Love is about you, but because it is about others. You get something out of it only when you give something to it. You already know you will feel bad about yourself after you verbally rip that person a new one and that’s a good thing. That means you know nothing productive is happening in that interaction.
Tomorrow’s post will expand on this, but for today, keep this in mind as you interact with people and see what difference you see. It requires that you let a little of yourself go, and you may not get acknowledgement from that person right away, but I believe you will find a new satisfaction in it.