I would venture to say that almost every day, at some point, I come across a fellow human being who does something that I don't like, I don't understand, that I don't agree with or that just plain annoys me in some way. I mean...people do some weird things that just leave me shaking my head saying..."Who does that?" Case in point: A couple of days ago, I was getting gas in my car and saw someone a few rows over smoking a cigarette while pumping gas. Is it not bad enough that I'm standing there watching the gas pump readout furiously escalating past the $75 dollar mark? That alone is stressful enough without this knucklehead putting himself and everyone else around him in danger of being blown sky high on a beautiful fall day. KABLAM! Yo, dude...that big, red NO SMOKING sign applies to everyone. Even you. Seriously...
Or the lady driver who sped up and cut me off so she could be one car ahead of me in the pickup line. And we were there 45 minutes before school got out! Were they handing out 'Absurdly Early and On The Ball Mom' awards that day and I didn't get the memo? Why the big rush? I don't get it. Someone (well meaning, of course) actually sent me a Facebook message last week saying that it was a good thing my dog had been put to sleep because (and I quote) "I'm just glad he died peacefully. It would have been a lot worse if he had died after being hit by a car or something where he had to suffer." Now don't get me wrong, I know they were trying to be comforting and I appreciated the intent but I was really grieving and that just missed the mark for me.
I worked myself up into a real lather the other night over something someone said to me because it hurt my feelings and (if I'm honest) brought some of my own insecurities to the fore. I allowed myself to be provoked into irritation and I know I was unable to hide the fact that I was annoyed. After I got home, I prayed and reflected on the situation which led me to a place that I can see now was exactly where God wanted me to be. The situation shined a light into a dark area that is: my often narrow focus on myself. Or what I call 'Me-ism.' Being so aware and involved with my own reality and how it makes me feel that I unfortunately miss out on the opportunity to learn something important or to experience something special in my life or the life of someone else. Me-ism happens to everyone. It was happening to the guy at the gas station. And the lady who cut me off in the line at school. Even the well meaning friend who made a thoughtless remark. It happened when I became overly sensitive and reacted negatively with a friend. We can all be self absorbed and do these kinds of hit and run offenses toward others without even realizing what we've said or done. I know I need to work on that and with God's grace and mercy, I'm becoming more aware. Please keep me in your prayers and offer me forgiveness as needed as I grow in my journey of faith.
The Bible says we are to strive to live our lives as Jesus did and let me tell you, He is a pretty tough act to follow! I try not to carry offenses and to be forgiving but sometimes, in the moment, it can be hard (okay, sometimes impossible) to overlook the behavior of others and keep a calm and loving demeanor. Believe me, I've tried. I guess the best we can do is ask for guidance, apologize when necessary, try to look beyond the sins of others and keep trying to mature and grow through the renewing of our minds through God's word.
Matthew 18:21-22 (NIV) says, "Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, 'Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?' Jesus answered, 'I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.' "
By the way, This means forgiving ourselves, too.
Once upon a time, there was a godly man who had purposefully traded a heavenly existence for a life of hard work, long hours of teaching and who gave his all for the sick and the broken. After performing miraculous healing and acts of provision for those in need, he continued being misunderstood and misrepresented, being scorned, despised and rejected. Eventually, He was tortured and killed and endured, even embraced it all in the name of LOVE. Asking forgiveness for His tormentors even as He suffered and died. He defeated death and the grave and kept His promise to return and show Himself alive to those who believed in Him. All in the name of redeeming those who had wronged Him. All in the name of justifying those who had rejected His father's love for them. He did it all for love. I mean, really...who DOES that?
Only Jesus. He is where I am putting my focus. Less 'Me-ism' and more 'He-ism.' More on loving as He loved. Forgiving others as He forgave me. On trusting our heavenly Father with this life He has given me. Of living with an attitude of gratitude for this experience on Earth. If I continue to do that, whether I understand it or not, everything else falls perfectly into place in the exact time that it should. Jesus is alive and well and living in those who, by faith and trust, believe in the whole story just as it is written. Unbelievable as it may seem, there are some who continue to tell this remarkable story because they are confident in the knowledge that there is power and life everlasting in accepting as truth the good news of the life and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Really? Who does that? Well...I do, for one. I pray everyone who reads this will hear the call and surrender it all. And live, really live. Happily ever after.