I just realized I have this unchecked, underlying hostility for one woman in our neighborhood. Without going into detail here, she thinks I took some liberty with her property that was “crossing the line.” Now, I don’t take too well to being reprimanded by a female, especially one I already don’t like. Marti and I think that even though I don’t specifically remember it, I must have been dragged into the principal’s office at some point in my early childhood and raked over the coals by a female principal, because I have a huge fear associated with this that is very inappropriate for a man of my age and responsibility. Sometimes I can be so childish.
So you can see I have a combined sense of fear and hostility towards this woman whenever I see her. Now of course my passive-aggressive nature would never let on to her about this. In person I’m as nice as can be. I’m humble, compliant and really ticked off. I’ve even gone over and above what’s expected in watching her property when she is gone (which is often) and made some repairs at my own expense, to where I think she owes me something, when she feels I’ve taken advantage of her.
My typical approach to a difficult relationship like this is avoidance.
Now does any of this sound like appropriate attitudes or behavior from a child of God? Do you think I’m going to be in a position the manifest the light of Christ to this person? Of course not. What am I going to have to do to change this?
Well first, I have to do something about my anger. If it’s over something I need to confront her with, I need to do that in a civil way. If a confrontation is not called for — if it’s only something that has occurred on my end — then I need to get over it. Talk to the Lord about it; talk to Marti about it, but don’t hold it inside. Whatever I hold inside is going to come out in vengeful ways that will ultimately hurt me — or those close to me who have to live with me — more than anybody. If I feel she has wronged me in some way, I need to forgive her. Even if the harm has been all on my side of the fence, I need to forgive her in my own heart. And finally, I need to respect her.
I can respect her as one made in the image of God and able to reflect something about His nature that no one else can. I can look for something I can admire her for. When I think about her, I can focus on actually liking her instead of disliking her. Maybe “appreciate” would be a better word. It may be asking too much to actually like her, but you never know. Once I get my own issues out of the way, I may be able to actually see this person, and if I can see her the way God sees her, I will have successfully changed my attitude toward her.
Now that I’ve actually told you about this, I have to do something about it. I’m not harboring my own private feelings anymore. I’m not keeping secrets any longer. I’m accountable to you.
Respect. She is someone important in God’s eyes. She is loved by Him. That’s huge. That makes her lovable. That love is unconditional, and that love is available to me through the Spirit which lives in me.
When I started writing this Catch, I never would have thought of this person as being lovable. But I can now. Suddenly, this person I would have avoided at all costs … I can’t wait to see, just to see what God does inside of me. It’s amazing what a little respect, and the Spirit of God, can do. A little respect can go a long way.