If you aren’t bumping into difficult people these days, you simply aren’t alive. Since Inauguration Day 2017, there’s a good chance that 50% of the people in your life are hard to deal with. Emotions are running high and opinions are strong. And I think I have put my finger on it. It all comes down to the fact that we love our ideas more than we love people.
I am no different from any flawed person out there. There’s the way I think the world should be run and then there’s the wrong way. You know, I’m god – small “g.” Sinful pride and self-righteousness are my default when I allow my opinions to become more important than the people around me.
The Tension of Perceived Threat
Here is how this epiphany suddenly became revealed to me.
My daughter has been running into a disproportionate amount of vitriol and hostility on her college campus with increasing measure this past year. Of course, that’s to be expected since virtually all college campuses lean liberal in their thinking and she is more conservative in her own. Nevertheless, I would expect professionalism to make professors and administrators realize that they are teaching students who have a variety of worldviews. Strong personal opinions from people of power can intimidate students because those individuals have authority over them. Instructors hold the key to passing or failing. College kids like my girl don’t trust such vocal people to be objective in their teaching and grading.
Sadly, things have become uglier for her since Inauguration Day. Professors have been completely unable to maintain their professionalism. Their feelings of disdain for our current administration ooze from their lips. A stunning letter from the college president was sent to all of the students. It quickly made its way to local Conservative talk radio where there was disgust and outrage.
I’ll be honest, it is HARD not to feel completely indignant and want to slug someone when they are oppressing your kid. Even when they are young adults, we all want our children safe. Keeping my calm, praying with her, and pointing her to Jesus has been my primary goal. Clarity is what I can offer to her at a time like this. Still, I have been hearing from her multiple times every day as she tells me how much she hates it there.
The pressure I have been feeling as a mom to make this wrong right has my stomach churning. And that’s where I made the mistake of swinging out in frustration.
Someone I love who has a different worldview than I had sent me an e-mail asking about my daughter. I responded, inappropriately dumping out my girl’s misery at school. Feeling entitled to justice, I shared the pain. After all, people of that point of view need to know what they are doing to the rest of us, I rationalized.
The response I got was brief and chilly. I got angrier.
I knew better than to stew, so I deleted my e-mail exchange, but it still bugged me.
Waking up the next morning, God got my attention. “Apologize,” is what I clearly heard Him tell me.
While I was not necessarily feeling like I was the one owed an apology, I obeyed. The Lord revealed to my heart how ridiculous it was of me to dump on someone who truly cares about my daughter. Just because that person has the same political view as the college agitators doesn’t make them worthy of my frustration.
It was in that moment of obedience that I realized that I was valuing ideas over loving people — EXACTLY what others were doing to my daughter. I was humbled.
Love and the Result
Because I was willing to humble myself, do an about-face, and love a person over ideas, great dialogue opened. First, the person assured there was no apology due and likened my daughter’s situation to their college years. Second, I was able to clarify the true threat to a person of my daughter’s minority views. Third, the loved one expressed shock and dismay learning of this academic intolerance.
Ultimately, the result was that the chill in our relationship dissipated and love was reaffirmed. We drew closer together. It was a soothing balm to my tattered heart. I felt grateful for the love and caring support of someone close to me. Unifying around our shared valued of loving others made me wonder how many others I may be keeping at a distance.
Through His discipline, Jesus drew me back to the awesome realization that each person He creates is worth dying for. I need to treat everyone with that sort of reverence. That’s what God calls me to do — Love Him and love people. Choosing ideas, beliefs, or politics over people is completely contrary to His will.
Not Exactly What I Had in Mind
I never expected to live through insane times like this. Still, I am grateful the the Alpha and Omega, Jesus Christ the same throughout eternity, sees this as nothing new under the sun. The Redeemer of our souls can heal our relationships.
Will we be willing to humble ourselves and obey?