One morning while eating breakfast at a restaurant, two older women made their way to the corner booth in front of me. While I was waiting for my spinach, mushroom, and ham omelet, the women began to talk in loud voices. It was clear they were both hard of hearing. They were also oblivious that other people were able to hear their entire conversation. The woman with pure white hair, dressed in a soft pink shirt, smiled, highlighting the permanent smile lines on her face. Her name was Gladys. The other woman’s hair was almost gray and cut very short. She looked stern which matched her army green colored jacket and the indented frown lines on her forehead. Her name was Gretchen.
I sipped my coffee and tried not to look their way even though I heard every word they spoke. The waitress brought my food which made it easier for me to keep my eyes where they should be. However, I could not turn off my hearing. The two women were close in age but complete opposites in their hearts, minds, and attitudes. Gladys was a cheerful and encouraging woman who lived alone and had one son. Gretchen was bitter and used cruel words concerning her husband, children, friends, church, God, and everyone else. It was apparent these two women had known one another for decades. No matter what Gladys said, Gretchen was determined to see the worst and to attack everyone and everything. It was apparent from the tension growing on Gladys’ face and the sadness in her eyes that her relationship with Gretchen was difficult.
By this time I had finished my omelet and made my way to the cash register to pay my bill. As I passed by them, I smiled and wondered how Gretchen’s life would be when she needed someone to take care of her. If Gladys could not be there for her, was there anyone who would be willing to care for her with love? Even if someone volunteered, it would be very hard in Gretchen’s current mindset.
No one comes into this world with a goal to be bitter or mean. However, I am also personally aware of the heartache and pain we endure which can tempt us to become angry, self-serving, and evolve into a bitter and difficult person. In fact, I have caught myself slipping into this mindset in my twenties. The only way I could guard my heart and mind against allowing the enemy to deceive me into living in a dark negative mindset was to personally get to know the heart and character of Jesus every day.
Every person will endure joy and pain as they go through each phase of life. The important thing is what we choose to do with the pain. As we grow up many of us, choose to learn compassion and consideration for others regardless of the hurt we experience. Some of us have been deceived into choosing to keep ourselves last or invisible to avoid any more pain. Some of us never choose to learn how to forgive and love others as we love ourselves and life remains all about “me.” Each of these choices has lasting consequences on this broken earth and into eternity. These consequences extend to the people in our lives and the people who will care for us as our bodies deteriorate. If you doubt this statement, I encourage you to go and visit a nursing home and talk to the staff about the attitudes of patients’ and the people who take care of them. Every year it is important for you to take a real honest look at your heart, attitude, words, and actions to see if you have the signs of becoming a difficult person.
- Are you demanding everyone to place you first or are you loving and serving others first?
- Are you explosive, abusive, and vengeful or are you kind and gentle?
- Are you bitter and stingy or joyful and generous?
- Are your desires and agenda priority over pleasing and serving God?
- Are you resentful and nasty about others having to decide when you can not drive or other boundaries or are you taking the initiative to make these
decisions and have a grateful attitude?
Perhaps the biggest question you should ask yourself is: would you want your exact twin, with the same words and attitudes, to take care of you? If your answer is no, you have the opportunity to change how you think, what you say, and how your attitude and actions affect the people in your life from this point on. Seek to know and to become like Christ Jesus, and you will be loved by him and those around you. Only you have the power to choose to be a loving or difficult person.
How do you handle the difficult people in your life?