There’s a sentence that I have underlined in my copy of Simply Tuesday. Written by one of my favorite Christian authors, Emily P. Freeman, it is one of my absolutely favorite Christian books and the sentence reads;
“The way God moves on earth is through the hands and eyes and feet of people-both the ones I’m naturally drawn to and the ones who get on my nerves.”
While I don’t necessarily remember what my mindset was when I was originally reading those words, when I stumbled on them a few months later as I idly flipped through the book (anyone else do this with their favorite books?), I paused. To be completely transparent with you, I don’t always want to think of God moving within the people that get on my nerves. How could God possibly be moving in a person that absolutely makes me want to pull my hair out? Sometimes I’d much rather think that it’s Satan that’s causing them to behave in such a way than believe that it’s actually God who is at work.
As followers of Christ, we are called to be like Jesus every day of our lives. It’s an impossible feat when you get to the very core of the idea, but it’s a beautiful thing to aspire to be and it’s one of the best callings that we have on this Earth. To be like Jesus is to be gentle, compassionate, and giving (just to name a few) to all. Not just to the people that make it easy to be and feel those things. The last thing I want to do is to be giving to someone who tries my patience or loves to ride my last nerve but hey, no one ever said this was an easy calling to receive.
After all, we all know that person. That one person that just knows all of the right things to say and do to drive you crazy. When I am at my worst, I will let this person completely rattle me and throw me off of my game entirely. I will spend more time venting to anyone who will listen about everything this person does to make me insane than actually taking the high road. It may feel better to complain about a situation than acting upon it, but it doesn’t get you very far in the long run. The Bible tells us, “Fools vent their anger, but the wise quietly hold it back.” (Proverbs 29:11, NLT)
I don’t know about you, but I tend to fall into the “foolish” category more often than I care to admit.
As much as I don’t want to believe it, God is working within those that cause us frustration, anxiety, or just downright annoyance. It’s with the lens of these ugly emotions that I am better able to see all of the areas in my life that need Jesus the most. When I allow myself to pause and dissect what exactly is causing me to have such a short fuse, I don’t usually enjoy what I find. So often, it’s my own insecurities as well as stress and exhaustion that lead me astray. The Bible tell us in James 1:19-20 (NIV), “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.”
Now admittedly, sometimes what I really want to say to that is, “Okay God, I hear you…but have you actually met this person? Do you see what I’m having to deal with here?” But that wouldn’t be very Christ-like, now would it? Clearly God has met these people. He created them for a purpose, just as He did with all of us.
God does desire righteousness for us and I do believe that He moves within all of the people in our lives. He brings particular people into our lives in particular seasons for particular purposes. The people that challenge us and frustrate us are often, in my own life at least, the very things that are helping to unearth and expose all of the areas in which I still (and always will) need Jesus.