So this post sort of follows on from my posts about love being the hardest choice, but I wanted to share some practical examples of how to do this. Now I know there will be those people in your life who just rile you, who are rude and selfish and disrespectful to you. But because of circumstances you just have to put up with them. Perhaps they are your colleagues or boss at work. Perhaps they are your neighbours. Perhaps they are another mum at a toddler group you love. They could be anyone.
We often think the Christian thing to do is to hold our tongues and not say anything, and so many times we go home and grumble about it there instead, in the privacy and security of our homes behind closed doors. We stew it in and it eats us up but we think we are doing the loving thing in not confronting people and being angry. But the bible tells us to do something completely different - it says we should actively seek to BLESS those people who insult us.
I want to give you two examples where I have been challenged to do this (and please note - I am not telling you this because I am super proud of these times, as there have been many other chances to do this that I have ignored, but rather to encourage you to have the boldness to do it).
The first was with a family that lived behind our house. The moved in a year after us and were your typical anti-social neighbours. They played loud music into the early hours of the morning, the shouted and swore at each other at the tops of their voices, they let their kids run around the street doing whatever they wanted and destroying whatever they wanted and the kids even shouted abuse at us. They threw pumpkin at our house on Halloween and just made us feel like we didn't want to live there any more. It all seemed like it might be fine when we decided to move house and like we could just escape them silently, but God didn't want that. He kept prodding me to get them a Christmas present. I really didn't want to. I didn't want to go over and give it to them. But I sort of listened and started collecting items together to go in a hamper for them. I wrapped it up and everything and then my nerves started to kick in - how on earth was I going to be able to give it to them?? I eventually ended up leaving it outside their front door early one Saturday morning when they were all still in bed, and then peeking to see if they had seen it! I never knew what they thought of it or if it made a difference, but I knew I had done the right thing in blessing them.
The second was at a similar time when we had received an offer on our house. Things started to go pear shaped and our buyers were trying to get every pound off the asking price they could. If I had seen them I very well might have hit them!! But I just kept trusting God that it would all be fine, and in the end it was. On the weeks leading up to moving day, God again started to prod me. I was contemplating thoughts of not cleaning the house to get them back for all the heart ache, and God said no - you must leave the house immaculate and also put together a welcome hamper for them. So I collected some vital new home things (soap, candles, washing up liquid etc) along with some handy things about the neighbourhood and left them in a basket on the kitchen side. As I locked the door the leave that house for good, I felt upset about the way I felt towards them, but I knew I had done the right thing in blessing them. Again, I will never know what they thought of that or if it was significant to them.
There are many other examples when I didn't do this - with my boss at my previous job who bullied me is one that stays with me. When she left I don't think I even looked her in the eye and said good bye, and now I wonder how different it might have been if I had chosen the bless her instead.
So if you feel that annoyance rising up, the insults coming at you and the evil coming against you, I ask you to try to listen to the voice of God telling you to bless them instead. I am not sure what this will look like in each situation, and it might just be you praying for them, but by showing them the love of Jesus and acting as he would you might just change them from insulting you to joining you in praising God.