Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Ephesians 6:10-13
Lord have mercy, I promise you – they can drive you crazy!
I have plenty of example of those kind of folks – just like I’m sure you do.
The crazy driver next to me who feels that she needs to cut me off in order to make her turn.
The little old lady at the grocery store who has a million grocery items and a whole lot of time to gab with the with the cashier (about nothing).
The person at work who blathers on about their political beliefs and why the world is going to hell in a handbasket when I couldn’t care less.
The friends who only seem to call you when they want something without giving two thoughts about your problems.
The people on the bus or the subway who talk at the top of their voices to their girlfriends or boyfriends on the phone when you wish you could close your ears so that you don’t have to listen.
The rude, the insensitive. The blowhards, the egotists. The misanthropes and misogynists. The opinionated and arrogant. The entitled. The one-upper. The boring. The monopolizers.
All these people drive me absolutely…batty. And I’m sure you have some good examples too.
I’m a Christian – it’s true – so that means I love and pray for everybody.
But I can definitely tell you I don’t love every trait about every person I meet.
As a matter of fact, if given a choice, I’d gladly run across traffic and hide behind a building if I saw certain people walking towards me.
But of course as a Christian I don’t get to do that!
I love, yes. Everyone. With the love of Jesus in my heart.
Like everybody? Not so much. And definitely not all the time.
And every time I have an unworthy thought about someone who totally gets on my nerves for one reason or another, God brings me back to the scripture I referenced at the beginning of this article.
He reminds me that my battle is not with any other person.
He reminds me that my TRUE battle is with the evil and dark forces of this world.
That every time I denigrate, judge or minimize another person, the enemy is laughing not only behind my back, but right to my face.
He reminds me that the more I dismiss, discuss or disdain someone, I’m closer to being on his side than on the Lord’s.
And once again I feel humbled and repentant.
Because I know two things for certain:
The first is that I get on people’s nerves as much as they get on mine. And I need their grace and forgiveness just to get through my day. I need someone to allow my random driving (as I get a little too involved with reading Facebook posts), listen to my overly talkative child when I take too long at the grocery store (who I think is adorable and who I am SURE others don’t find quite so adorable) and yell into the phone when I have bad cell phone connection but still need to talk to my husband.
They have to listen to me blather on about things they do not care about (Sci-fi or Star Wars, anyone?), get on my soapbox for the millionth time about women’s rights or how much I hate politics or whatever ridiculousness I have on my mind that day (and I’m filled with a whole LOT of ridiculousness on a regular basis). They have to listen to me as I judge other people I consider to be too judgmental (oh, the irony). And they have to deal with me as I avoid dealing with people I don’t like (leaving them to deal with them) or give people funny looks behind their backs (because I’m too immature that day to act like I have some sense).
They have to deal with me in all my grumpiness, my flaws and failings and find a way of loving me (or at least tolerating me) until I get myself together again and can model a semblance of orderliness and good behavior. They have to listen to me as I rhapsodize about Krispy Kremes and their absolutely perfect ratio of sweetness to butter tastiness goodness and how a warm one is surely a taste of a future heaven…. Well, you get my point…lol. In any case, they have to demonstrate a remarkable tolerance to my day after day moods, mindsets and wishful thinking.
And I know that can’t be easy.
The other thing I know for certain is that I have absolutely NO IDEA what that other person I am judging, dismissing and disdaining is going through. They could have lost their mother, have a stressful job, have more bills than their paychecks can cover, be going through a divorce, be in the middle of a medical procedure, be fearful for their spouse or children or just having a bad day. ! I HAVE NO IDEA and it really isn’t my business anyway.
I don’t live in their heads, walk in their shoes or live their lives.
So while I’m busy judging them, they might just be struggling just to make it through their day, get up with a positive attitude and smile at me (as I’m busy wishing I could disappear down another aisle to avoid them). Or they could just need a little extra grace that day. A little more tolerance. A little more understanding.
I don’t know what it cost them to get out of bed that morning. I don’t know the struggle they have with their spouse. And I have NO IDEA how much physical pain they’re in from back surgery (that was supposed to work), but they are still managing to complete their projects and do their best.
I have no idea.
Yet I still judge.
And when all that fails, I’m brought around to this simple fact: My fight is NOT with other people anyway. All those silly and inconsequential things that annoy me and those words that I take to be ‘fighting’ words only reveal the flaws within me rather than whatever I think is wrong with that other person.
My fight is with the enemy and allowing him to poison my thoughts and determine my actions towards another person.
That’s where the REAL fight is.
With the spirits that influence us.
With the forces of darkness that cloud our minds.
With the enemy laughing at all of us as we effectively do his work for him.
PEOPLE ARE DOINGTHE BEST THAT THEY CAN. And even when it is not up to your standards, it’s still the the best they can do.
It’s not their job to try to do things up to your standards, do things to please you or find ways to gain your approval for how they live their lives or conduct themselves (I’m talking about personal rather than work relationships here).
I know that’s a hard thing to hear, but it is no less true.
The only person you can change is you and it is not your business or concern to try to change someone else. Our jobs as Christians is to pray for others, treat them kindly (the way WE’D like to be treated) and leave them in God’s hands.
And, yes, that’s a lot harder to do when that other person is close to you, or a loved one or friend. But just look at it as an opportunity to get a lot of EXTRA prayer time in, because it’s the people closest to you who can get under your skin the quickest.
Finally, you have to remember that people have their own struggles, are being influenced just as much as you are by the enemy and may or may not be capable of winning the fight that day. They deserve grace. You deserve grace. So do both you and them a favor and allow them time to heal, get better and for you to increase in maturity right along with them.
Once we remember that our REAL fight is with the enemy and NOT WITH that other person, it puts us in a position to pray for them (and for ourselves, for our intolerance) as we submit their problems to God and pray that He releases them from (hopefully – if they are willing) from whatever is burdening them.
It puts us in a position to show kindness even when it is not returned.
It gives us the opportunity to show God’s love in a place of darkness we can’t conceive.
Don’t fight other people.
Focus your fight on the REAL enemy.
And defeat him through praying for others, treating them kindly, and keeping your mind and focus on God.