Sometimes I have a hard time not getting frustrated or annoyed by other people’s little quirks and idiosyncrasies. Most of the time I just keep it inside and don’t say anything (unless it is a family member or someone with whom I feel very comfortable), but the internal feeling is still there.
And since I am naturally an introspective person, things like that tend to undergo an extensive internal discussion in which I attempt to define the reason why that certain thing makes me feel that way; the result being that I either basically tell myself to get over it–that this little annoyance is not worth the effort–or, if I’m not proactive in controlling my thoughts, the feeling starts to fester.
That is the worst thing ever in a case like that. Because festering irritations or frustrations can quickly escalate to feelings of resentment or bitterness, and before you know it, you have a full-on grudge going on against that person and you don’t even really remember why (sort of like a feud between two families that stretches out across several generations, and the current feuding members don’t even know what the original grievance was, except that it was something that is definitely worth fighting over) –or, even if you do remember why, it is so magnified out of proportion in your mind that you can’t see it for the molehill it truly is.
This is where love comes in. Not just any old mushy touchy-feely kind of love, though. The enduring, self-sacrificing, unconditional, Jesus-kind of love.
I really like how these two verses put this concept:
1 Peter 4:8 ~ “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.”
Proverbs 10:12 ~ “Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses.”
The verses may be referring more to actual sins that people do rather than just little things that are annoying to certain people, but I think the principle is the same.
Whether we are dealing with personal pet peeves or more serious offenses from family members, friends, or anyone, the answer is the same.
Sometimes a family member might do something, irksome yet trivial, without even realizing they are bothering us, or they may constantly commit errors or offenses against us or others that are wrong but they aren’t yielding to the Holy Spirit’s prompting to do something about the situation.
Those are times when love on our part will make a world of difference. Love will cover all offenses and sins, and everything else above, beneath, and in between.
If you truly love someone, then repeated sins and offenses that they do against you will be nothing compared to preserving your relationship with them. Love will allow the little quirky or annoying things they might do to slide by with hardly a notice.
I don’t mean that you will overlook the sins and offenses in someone else’s life as if they don’t matter, because they do. However, instead of allowing those faults to cause a rift or a point of contention between you, leave the criticisms and arguments behind and replace them with lots of prayer and loving confrontation.
If what you’re struggling with are harmless idiosyncrasies and pet peeves, then true love and compassion for that person means that you’ll just laugh about the situation and remember that the exact thing you are peeved about is part of what makes that person the unique individual that they are and the person that you love.
Love will tell you that it’s just not worth it to get miffed at someone because they keep singing that off-key tune or tracking mud into your clean kitchen, or that it’s not worth the wasted effort and the potentially damaged relationship to get critical and angry at the person who keeps forgetting to take their dirty dishes to the sink or who constantly ignores your requests to help with the housework.
Insert any one of countless scenarios.
One thing I keep praying is that I would be able to see people as Jesus sees them, from His perspective. In all His earthly ministry, His perspective was nothing but love and compassion, even when the people were at fault. If Jesus loves me that much and forgave me and everyone else in the world of all our wrongdoings, then I know He wants me to do the same to everyone in my life, and He has given me the ability to do it.
In all of history people have struggled to get along with each other, and that’s not going to change anytime soon. But the good thing is that we have the key to making relationships worth the effort and perseverance. Jesus’ conquered the multitudes with love and compassion, not eloquent one-upping and well-played arguments.
If we all decided to make that our philosophy as well, how would our lives and relationships be different?
I’m going to go think about that for a while, and hopefully change some things in my own life in the process.
Photo Credit: Yogesh Mhatre