Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Sometimes I happen to notice that I get angry easily... at people.... at the whole culture. As I was thinking about this today when pondering another completely disproportional response I had to a particular situation, I noticed that the word 'agriculture' is almost a smooshing together of the words describing my disposition. When I have to deal with people in any type of stressful situation, I cannot wait to retreat back to my patch of dirt. Having to interact with (most) people tires me emotionally. The exception is when the person isn't trying to get something from me, or persuade me, or sell me something, or assume something about me, or manipulate me, or judge me. As you may guess, my friend list is short; despite what Facebook says... and I am okay with that.
Mom and Dad had some sort of weird gene that passed to a lot of us. I can't name the gene, but if I had to I would call it the "extreme-need-to-make-other-people-comfortable-that-often-backfires(except with the most virtuous of people) because- they-get-so-comfortable-they-feel-empowered-to-do-things (like those described in the preceding paragraph)-that-cause-a-major-anger-reaction-after-they-are-no-longer- present" gene. If it weren't for observing it in some of my siblings, I would think I was the only one with this problem on the planet. That's because no one with this problem ever lets anyone see the anger...that would defy the first part about making them feel comfortable, despite what they do to you.
I don't really have this problem as much with people I actually love. Somehow I seem to extend them more grace, to give them a little more slack, the benefit of the doubt. It actually seems the people I love don't do these things- at least nowhere near as much... maybe I am just good at picking awesome people to love. Other people...I am still learning... trying to figure out how to love them. I guess this comes naturally for some really wonderful Christians out there... but I am still clinging to the verse that covers step one in the love-them process: "Be angry, but do not sin," which might as well come out and say, "be angry, but don't punch them in the face."
How does one go from step one to step two and finally all the way to truly loving people who do such obnoxiously offensive things? I don't know. Keep trying I guess. Recently I got a little bit of an idea from one of my sisters. She shared an example of how many times there are reasons behind why people act a certain way; and if we knew their hurts we would give them way more grace then they would even know what to do with for the way they are acting now. It would be helpful to know their stories up front, wouldn't it? But they won't tell us unless we love them first. Maybe they never tell us. But I think I am starting to see that no one starts out a jerk and no one has to end up one. If we only love people who aren't jerks, love will never be there to penetrate the hearts of the jerks so they stop being jerks. The bible says, "While we were yet (jerks) sinners, Christ died for us." Loving is the only commandment in the New Testament. God knew what we'd be dealing with out here. So it has to be done. Loving jerks, that is.
If you find yourself angry with the culture while you are doing this, though... may I suggest a patch of dirt? While you are out there tending to the trees or bushes or gardens or chickens you can work out all that anger so that when you do have to go back in (to the culture)-- you can do what you need to do. I think this is a wonderful, wonderful secret that has been held by farmers for ages. It's probably why just the word 'farmer' still makes people feel good... like something is right with the world. That's because all this time those men and women I imagine have taken their brothers' offenses (and their own anger about them) and cast them to the sky or ground or water--- anywhere they were working that day---- and then came back, loved them, invited them onto their porch, and gave them a glass of tea. There may be other ways to do this, but I don't know any other way that works for me.
(Special thanks to all the people who have done this for me).