Forcing myself to resolve conflict rather than avoid it has been one change that is partly a result of my faith; trying to love the unloveable is another slow change that has resulted from my commitment to Christ. I've had a heart for difficult children for years, but difficult adults have been another story. After all, who wants to put up with an annoying, obnoxious grown-up? Not me. It's easy to think "She has no excuse; she is an adult."
The problem is that as Christians we're called to love these people as ourselves. Unfortunately there is no caveat for those who have personalities that make us want to kick them, punch them in the face, or otherwise express our dislike. And I've come to believe that avoiding them is not always the right answer either, although I sometimes wish it were. My path has recently been crossed by someone who has been rather disagreeable. He talks too much, can be rather self-centered, is demanding and needy, and happened to drink entirely too much; on the flip side, he's straight-forward and real, game for heavy conversations, and funny. And he's also clearly been wounded and unloved and rejected over the years. His pain is obvious. We've fallen into an odd friendship that has been exhausting me. I've had to rely on God to give me strength, patience, and grace for this man. I've failed often as I've been snarky or short with him or internally ugly as I've encountered him one too many times in a week. As I've considered why my time with him is sometimes so frustrating, I realize it brings out some of the worst in me---my impatience, intolerance, selfishness, and arrogance. I hate being confronted with the sin that festers in me, and I hate that because of this man others are seeing it too. God has been stretching me, and it's uncomfortable.
At the same time, it's gratifying as I've probably never had anyone be so grateful for my friendship. I'm not sure many people have felt as loved by me as this man has. And last week my prayer (and many of my friends') that this man would know Christ was answered, and I've never seen such a quick and radical transformation in another person. His misery and bitterness has seemingly overnight been replaced with joy and hope. It's been incredible, and honestly I've had a hard time believing it. Isn't it crazy to pray for something big and then not believe it when it happens? As much as I want to believe in a God that big and powerful, this experience has shown me that I'm not quite there yet.
p.s. I'm grateful for coffee...the different flavors, decaf, the feeling of holding a warm cup in my hand, the way it makes a conversation even better, and the romance of it all.