William Wordsworth expresses a simple concept that can be difficult to execute: being yourself. Filling your paper with the breathings of your heart means being honest and raw in your writing. It means exposing yourself, taking risks, and being vulnerable. It means being passionate and caring about your work.
This week a former supervisor who is going through the pain of stage-4 brain cancer expressed Wordsworth’s thoughts about her heart. I remember her as being very forthcoming and expressing, perhaps to a fault, what she thought about anyone. Honesty is important, yet God also says, “If it is possible, as much as it depends upon you, be at peace with every one” (Romans 12:18). Hebrews 12 also admonishes us to be at peace with all people and not let a bitter root develop. In light of Wordsworth’s thoughts I want to express the most painful part of my life, getting along with difficult people. God has made it clear that I am in a season of difficult people. He has placed several in my life at work and in my family. My theme for 2015 was presented early in the year as “Kindness.” This is an excellent theme for dealing with difficult people. I know that I have written on this topic before, yet it is my cross at this time and perhaps many who are reading as well.
God makes clear that it is through the Holy Spirit that we have the capability to be at peace with others. When Jesus appeared to the disciples after His resurrection He said, “Peace to you. When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side…So He said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them. “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (John 20:20-23).
It is through the Holy Spirit’s counsel and teaching you all things that we can live in His way. He will convict, but He will also guide and He will speak the truth and give us courage. God, through His Spirit is bringing us agape love without which we really can’t offer brotherly love.
In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus tells us “Therefore is you bring your gift to the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, first be reconciled to your brother and then offer your gift” (Matthew 5:24). He is telling us that offering gifts are less important than being reconciled with one another. He goes on in Matthew 7:3 to tell us to take the plank out of our own eye before we try to take the speck out of a brother or sister’s eye. He is serious about pride and feeling better than another. It does not always work as I have already talked about.
So I continue to work with the trial of “porcupines” in my life. However, there are times when people do not receive your efforts of reconciliation and peace. I find the passive-aggressive folks are perhaps most difficult as they will not tell you how or what they are feeling. They just disregard your efforts and are unresponsive. Jesus says “If people do not welcome you, leave their town and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” (Luke 9:5). He is saying that sometimes if you have done what you can, move on. In the words of Taylor Swift, a contemporary rock star, “Shake it off.” Some people are not safe. Jesus of course had many trying to kill him. He chose to address them but also disappeared when it was not safe or effective. He was indeed the ultimate and “perfect” servant, yet infinitely wise.
I have sought forgiveness with others, offering my own apologies and asking forgiveness for my own part in many challenges. This has freed me, even when the other has not responded. I have such a challenge today with several people. Therefore, I have chosen to “shake it off.” This is not an easy decision because I want every one to like me and I know Jesus wants us reconciled. Yet reality tells me that this is not going to happen in some cases. So-called experts in this subject say at least 10% will never like you no matter what you do. So “shake it off” and move on for there is a large harvest field out there.