But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.
~1 Timothy 1:16 (New International Version)~
The closer we get to God, the more often we find ourselves in situations where we become frustrated with people. This week held many challenges for me and as I encountered each, I started thinking, “I’m really acting like a jerk .” I’m a librarian in an elementary school and we just finished our Spring book fair. When I say “we” what I really mean is that “I” just finished with the book fair.
After I had completed about the fifth of twenty class presentations on how to browse and buy at the book fair, I found myself getting more and more frustrated with the students, the teachers, the parents and pretty much the air around me. As the week progressed, I ran into problems with teachers bringing classes down and allowing their students to run willy-nilly while I tried to watch and make sure that none of the merchandise got damaged or disappeared. Sadly, these are things that I have to watch for. And after I had answered the same questions about a hundred times, I started hearing that tone in my voice. You know, the one that communicates that you’d really rather slap the person in front of you than talk to them. That’s never a good thing.
Fortunately, each day I poured all of this out to God during my prayer time and asked Him to help me be less frustrated with people and more forgiving of what I had been perceiving as their lack of ability to listen. By the end of the week, it became clearer still that the problem was not in their inability to listen but in my inability to be patient and understand that just because I had explained things to each of them, they had really only heard my message the one time.
While I had shared my instructions over four hundred times, the person in front of me was only experiencing this for the first time. This is something that is easy to forget when you teach the same lesson over and over as part of your job. It can be equally difficult to remember this in other types of work. So, if you are in the service industry or if you work with people on a regular basis and you become frustrated about how many times you’ve tried to explain something, remember that the person in front of you probably hasn’t been on the receiving end of that speech on more than one occasion.
The idea that we need to always carry a spirit of forgiveness and mercy into our dealings with others is terribly important. When we look at the people around us as a bother or we get angry with people for not comprehending what seems so clear to us, we sometimes get into the mindset that it really won’t matter what we say or do because nobody is listening anyway. This leads to a feeling of discouragement and can ultimately justify our need to just “give up” on things.
We are going to be studying Joyce Meyer’s Never Give Up curriculum this summer at our church and I am truly looking forward to it. As we work through this study, I’m hoping to share some examples with the group from the many times in my life where I have felt like giving up; not only on my work, but even on the people I love the most. There have been so many times that I have been sure there was nothing worth fighting for. Times when the rug was pulled out from under me and when I felt like I had no reason to keep trying. I’m happy to admit that I was wrong in those situations and although I hate to be wrong, I know that there are times when it is necessary to allow yourself those mistakes.
So, as you work through your week remember to be patient, have mercy, and forgive those who cannot read your mind. Have a blessed weekend!
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
~Colossians 3:12 (New International Version)~