The Problem with People
Today as I sat in church I realized that people REALLY annoy me. This is kind of a sad realization when it’s prompted during church, but I couldn’t help it. Enter example A: the guy sitting next to me at church. He was one of those suuuuper loud suuuuper excited people, really out-going, had to greet everyone around him before church even started, even though it was evident he didn’t know any of them. Being the ultra to-myself introverted person that I am, I was already trying really hard not to make eye contact with him and decided within the first five seconds of church that he annoyed me. So far, you might be thinking “wow relax, the guy’s just really nice and happy,”which would be completely justifiable for you to think. But for some reason, whenever someone is THAT friendly and nice, it always seems a tad overly dramatic and a bit ingenuine to me. It’s almost like these people just want other people to look at them and think, “wow, they are just so nice.” In my mind, if you’re truly kind-hearted and you have a nice spirit, there’s no reason to parade around with this overly-nice facade. It’ll just come out in your actions when necessary.
Anyway— what a huge digression— I was sitting by this guy getting perturbed when church finally started and once it did, this guy immediately darts to the aisle, slopping all over me because I’m at the aisle seat and it’s dark so he can’t see. I really tried not to get annoyed because I told myself “get a grip Olivia, he probably just had to go to the bathroom; be patient”, to which I rebutted “yeah well he could have been doing that during the last 20 minutes while he was fake-greeting people”. I know, I know, but that’s the kind of stuff that goes through my head sometimes.
During the part of service where we’re actually supposed to greet people we don’t know, the guy shook my hand and somewhat apologized that he had stepped on me multiple times getting to and from the aisle. Socially polite gesture, but for some reason it didn’t alleviate my annoyance. And after church, as I was tail-gated all the way to my house by irresponsible drivers, I thought to myself “wow, people REALLY annoy me.” And then God struck me— not with lightning for being so impatient and ungracious, but with this thought: “But you are the same.” Goodness, talk about a slap in the face, but a much-needed one. And I thought, “You’re right. I am one and the same. I am no different and I am no better. I am the same.” This was a huge realization for me.
I think sometimes— and this is an especially difficult pill for me to swallow daily because I have such a low tolerance for poor behavior— we forget that humans make really poor decisions sometimes. And we just have to deal with those poor decisions. Sometimes we look at others’ mistakes and think “oh my word, they’re so stupid/ rude/ thoughtless” without taking a moment to realize that we are all the same. No one gets everything right all the time and no one is on their best, most courteous, putting-others-first behavior all the time. I wish it were that way, but we’re not there yet. We’re just not perfect. We’re going to have to be patient with each other. And trust me when I say that patience with people doesn’t come easy or natural to me— I pray day and night for divine intervention when it comes to patience. But it’s a necessary virtue for living life to its fullest in this world.
So the next time someone cuts you off on the freeway or the person in front of you at the market says something rude or ignorant or careless, remember not to sink to the level of that behavior and be at peace. Be at peace knowing that retaliating with more poor behavior won’t do any good. Be at peace knowing you can choose to be patient and kind even when others aren’t choosing to be that way. And be at peace knowing that someday, the world won’t look like this, but for now, we’ll just have to keep asking for divine intervention.
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. ~Ephesians 4.2-3.