Last December, I ran into a friend at church…he was a greeter and greeted me with, “So, how are you doing?” (Fine) “Are you retiring from teaching?” (I’m currently on leave but will retire.)
“I wish I could retire. I don’t know how much more I can stand,” he volunteered.
We’ve had chats before. I know that he works with people who drive him batty. Many are superiors so his coping mechanism is the slow burn, ineffective and damaging. And, I don’t know, do I always butt in? I believe God led me to offer him some advice.
“Think about this. Pick one of your co-workers, one who causes you the LEAST problem, and make it your New Year’s resolution to pray for him every day. Nothing specific…just ask God to help him have a good day. Do it while you do some other daily activity, like brushing your teeth.”
He looked at me with a smirk. “Really?”
“You should try it. First, if you’re praying for someone, you can’t harbor too many negative thoughts about him. And, I believe, that if you’ll do this for a month, God will honor it with some sliver of relief for you.” I suggested he keep him eyes open for God’s answer.
He mentioned that his list was long, that he could tackle 4 or 5. I suggested that he should pick just one and the one who is the hardest to hate. No reason to ford a river when you can start with dipping a toe in the stream.
I don’t know if he followed my advice. I hope so. Spiritual or no, you can’t change others; you can change your reactions to others. And, throwing in the prayer component, God will help you.
Yesterday, I heard some cynic say that all unsolicited advice is self-serving. Hmmm. Really? I hope not. However, that very good advice I gave came back to roost.
My continued life is so blessed. I find my heart overflows with joy, at big things like an upcoming wedding and little things, like that beautiful sunset. God just keeps solving my problems which are so small anyway. He brings people into my circle who help me, all the time. So I have nothing but shame for the following:
I have been harboring…let’s say…bad feelings toward 4 people who, in my opinion, could have made my last months at school a bit easier. They chose not to. I survived but when the smoke cleared, I camped out on my resentment. And not quietly. No big deal, right?
I was standing by the church’s Visitor Center a few weeks ago when one of these folks walked by. Not quite audible but just as clear, God whispered, “You need to forgive her.”
And I, pilgrim still, stamped my metaphoric foot and said, “No.”
I know, I knew, this was wrong. But me being me, I patted myself on the head. “There, there.” And went on my way.
It took a few restless hours until I posted it on Facebook and asked friends to pray for me. And, they did, but many included affirmations for me, to excuse my attitude. One reminded me that the person needed to ask for forgiveness.
Except, without details, the person did nothing wrong. This person could have, in my opinion, offered me a little grace and didn’t. And let’s be honest. I don’t know the big picture.
Armed with prayers and crystal clear on my guilt, I took it to the Lord. Wouldn’t you just know it? My advice to my friend came back to me. “You should pray for her.”
I really should listen to myself. I followed my own advice and within a day, there was no need to forgive her. I assume she’s having some really good days.
And I have peace. And joy. Still on the journey.