When I was 16, there was a girl in my church who I thought hated me. She seemed very rude and caustic with me. I always felt that she was making fun of me, and I thought that she just didn’t care to be my friend. So I finally stopped trying to get to know her.
Fifteen years later, there is a man who owns a small café where I sometimes buy my coffee. He is sarcastic and many times seems rude, but I know he just has a personality that is different than mine. He’s actually a pretty nice man once you get past his rough exterior. I overlook his jibes because I know that he is not trying to insult me; he’s just trying to be friendly the only way he knows how.
One day as I was ordering my coffee, I saw the girl I knew when I was 16. She was talking with the owner of the café. He was making sarcastic remarks and trying to be funny and she was smiling. Every time he would say something rude, she would just laugh and say something rude back. They bantered back and forth for several minutes like this. The entire time the girl (now woman) had an expression of enjoyment on her face. I finally asked her, “Do you know this man?” She looked at me surprised and said, “Yes. He is my father.”
Fireworks went off in my head. For fifteen years I thought this girl didn’t like me. I thought she was rude and was constantly judging me. But I realized it was I who was judging her. She didn’t hate me. She merely related to me the best way she knew how, and I was too self-focused and insecure to understand her. I should have tried to see life through her eyes and not spotlight my own feelings. Maybe then we could have forged a stronger, Christ-centered relationship.
Now I know that I miss out on sharing God’s love and making those meaningful connections when I constantly worry about my own feelings. It is s so much easier to love others when I’m focused on how they feel, rather than getting caught up in my own self-centered emotions. I want to make an effort to give people the benefit of the doubt and not let my insecurities get in the way of seeing the best in people. I’m determined to see the image of Christ in others.
“A fool shows his annoyance at once, but a prudent man overlooks an insult.”
-Proverbs 12.16 (NIV)
“Lord, please help me not to be so self-focused that I miss the opportunity to connect with one of Your children today. Help me to overlook any insult and understand that all of us are designed different but in Your image. Show me how I can overlook the hurts that I’ve received.”