There have been people in my life who annoy me. Do you get that? Have you had people who get on your nerves? A co-worker? Someone at church? That neighbor who is hard to tolerate? A spouse who has an annoying habit? And the list goes on.
As Christians we are called to love everyone. Everyone. Like God loves—unconditionally. Whew, is that hard.
Don’t get me wrong. For the most part, I love people. I enjoy talking with them, interacting, and hearing about their lives. I am not a social person, but I do enjoy some socialization. And people are interesting.
But there is always that person. The one who makes a cutting remark that hurts. The one who seems to look down on you no matter what you do. Or the one who leaves you out of their clique as if you are not good enough for them. And, once again, the list can go on and on.
When I go on my morning walks I often ponder what God wants to teach me. He recently taught me a lesson about difficult people, and I thought I would share this with you.
At this time of year, there are some plants growing in the desert called plantago or the common name, I believe, is plantain. They are small plants and plentiful in the desert where I live. You can see them in the picture above. They look rather ordinary and can be a sort of hazard if I don’t watch. They can mask a divot in the path or a rock that might turn under my foot. Or they can hide a snake or other critter that I would prefer to step around. They can be a sort of annoyance in my life.
The picture above shows the plantago as I’m walking toward them with the sun at my back, so paying no attention to them in the light of the sun’s rays. They are ordinary. Small green plants with nothing to set them apart.
The picture below shows the plantago when I walk toward them facing the sun. They glow in the light. It’s like walking on a fairy path. They are a delight and a wonder and I love seeing them as I walk. Every time I marvel at their beauty.
What is the difference? The plants are the same. Everything is the same except for my view of them in the sun’s light. When I have my back to the sun they are ordinary. When I am facing the sun, with that light changing the outlook, the plants are amazing and beautiful.
God showed me that people are the same way. Those who annoy me or hurt me do so when I am viewing them through my lens, not through the light of God. My limited vision sees them as less than what they are intended to be. I forget to see the heart of the person and only look at the part that grates against me.
When I pray and look at them through God’s miraculous love, I see a whole different person. I see someone God loves. I see someone as imperfect as I am, yet with hidden gems that shine in the light God pours on them.
Sometimes it isn’t easy to see those hurtful people in a different light. It takes prayer. It takes asking for God’s help. But He has never failed me. Every time as I’ve prayed for that person and prayed for my outlook to become like His, He’s changed my perspective to one of love. He’s changed the ordinary to the extraordinary.