When I was in my late-twenties, there were about six people in the whole world that didn’t rub me the wrong way.
In particular, everyone at church – especially the men and the women – annoyed me to no end. For example: “Are you really inviting me to a women’s study? During the work day? On my one night off? On Sunday afternoon? Really!? Don’t you know I work at a particularly challenging job and also have small kids?”
But I was equally hot and bothered when you didn’t invite me to your little Bible study or retreat; when I wasn’t properly considered or accommodated. “Don’t you care about women who are out there doing the hard (and great) things? We need support, too. Am I not an important part of this church because I don’t stay home during the day? Do I not have spiritual needs and gifts?”
And! Heaven forbid if you – a man – failed to ask my opinion on an important matter: You’re making decisions without seeking my insights as a woman? Don’t you know I’m culturally on point because I’m out there doing the big things? Ignore my counsel at your own peril, because I can see things in a way that you guys never will.
Bump into me and I would surely have sloshed contempt and righteous indignation all over you.
I’d always known God – from as early as I could remember – but in those bitter days my heart was eons from him. I loved myself and my ideas more than I loved him or his people. I craved the sound of my own voice, and was completely tone-deaf to his.
I took myself so seriously.
But through consistent and strong discipline over the years (which always feels like such a dark night of the soul) God mangled my heart.
He taught me to love and enjoy his church and his people. And not just in part, but in whole.
He cut away, and stripped down, and is still shaping a new identity. One that can appreciate the loveliness of God’s people – even those that used to rub me the wrong way.
It turns out my Father did not choose to spare the rod, and in doing so he restored my life and saved my soul. Because we do not – cannot – love God if we are chronically contemptuous of the motivations of others.
It is impossible to reflect the heart of our Father when we are vigilant in seeking offense. Why? For he is vigilant in FORGIVING our offenses!
We are out of accord when we blame, disdain and are committed to defending our own rights. Why? Because Jesus did not defend his rights; he gave every one of them all up for love of his father.
And so we love our Father best when we forgive the big and the petty offenses. When we appreciate the beauty of every soul. When we cling to all the good that we see in his people.
We love like God when we pour out heaping measures of grace on those who offend us most.
Who rubs you the wrong way then? When they bump into you, what is it that overflows onto them? Do they leave you for better or worse? Richer or poorer? Heavy or light?
Its a new day, and there are new mercies for you in it. The LORD will melt your heart of stone one way or another, because he is committed to your becoming who he intends you to be.
Peace to you, as you bump into all of yours today. May they be covered – soaked – with grace and when they leave your presence.