I attended a local Bible college for two years in my early twenties to complete my degree. While there we were required to attend a chapel service every Wednesday. I don't remember very many of the sermons we heard but I do remember this one.
The speaker asked us to think about that person that I now like to refer to as a "grace grower." Maybe they're a family member, maybe you are assigned to the same group for a project, maybe they're an acquaintance or a co-worker. This person is difficult to be around, pushes your buttons and possesses many of the characteristics you find the most annoying. They might even lash out at you, manipulate you or hurt you intentionally. Sometimes he or she just plain drives you crazy.
The speaker then reminded us... "YOU are that person to someone."
Harsh truth moment.
None of us are exempt from this...and none of us are immune.
Romans 3:23: "We have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God." I'm not perfect. I screw up. While I never set out to hurt anyone, I do so inadvertently just by being...human. I'm sure my personality, quirks, habits and tendencies rub some people the wrong way. I stretch myself too thin and take on too many projects, so I'm sure there are plenty of people who think I'm a flake. I'm an idea person and a creative so sometimes I talk too much or boss people around. I'm a "get 'er done" type and I've undoubtedly stepped on a few toes along the way. The list could go on (and on...and on).
John 16:33: "In this world, you will have trouble." No matter how closely we walk with the Lord, no matter how hard we try to keep the peace, no matter how much we try to keep short accounts and treat people kindly, nothing we can do can make us impermeable to attack. As long as there are people, there will be trouble. Thank God the second half of John 16:33 that says, “But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
When one of the "grace growers" in my life recently lashed out at me, I felt wounded for a while. After reminding myself of the above (sometimes it's reversed and I'm the perpetrator...and, such is life in this imperfect world), Galatians 6:2 came to mind where it says, “Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ." She later admitted she was having a bad day and may have overreacted. Maybe she also struggles with insecurity. Maybe she's been hurt in the past in a similar situation. Maybe she's lonely. Maybe she was just “hangry” (angry due to hunger). Whatever her reasons, those are her burdens and I am called to bear them.
I also thought about all the people in MY life who bear my burdens, the ones who see me as a "grace grower." I am so grateful to them for "bearing with me" with grace and kindness. So whether you're the victim or the perpetrator right now, continue bearing while grace keeps growing.