“Put up willingly with the faults of others if you wish others to put up with yours.”
— St. John Bosco
Yesterday, while on Facebook (this site seems to always be a challenge for me) I responded to a comment by a person who I had forgotten I knew. It was a strange experience when I came to the realization of who this person was. I cannot believe I had so put their name behind me that I would not remember that this person lead the charge to get me removed from a church I was serving. This person had lied about me, slandered me, and caused me all kinds of distress. Once I realize who this person was, all the bad memories came flooding back. It took me a few hours to get back to the place of spiritual tranquility.
Using painful memories is one of the basic attacks of the enemy. Painful memories can cause feelings of shame, guilt, sorrow, anger, distress, tension, and even severe depression. I was not going to let the enemy use this tactic against me. You should not either.
Perhaps the best weapon we can use against our memories of difficult people is the art of practice compassion. There is a wonderful book, Practicing Compassion, by Frank Rogers Jr. that provides a very practical pattern for obtaining an attitude of compassion toward people like my former nemesis on Facebook. What Frank tells us is that we should take our PULSE when we have to deal with people like this.
P-paying attention by seeking a nonreactive response to the negative feelings that arise.
U-understanding empathically by remembering how easy it is to have negative feelings and to realize that the person toward whom we feel antagonistic likely is carrying a lot of pain as well.
L-loving with connection by allowing ourselves to be moved by the suffering with us and extending care toward ourselves and wishing it for the other person as well.
S-sensing the sacredness by remembering that we are all created by God for God’s purpose and that our God is a God of compassion who is willing to help us become compassionate as well.
E-embodying new life by moving forward beyond the damaging past memories and thus not allowing the enemy to have the influence the enemy wants to have on our lives.
Frank also warns us, “In demonizing others, we distance ourselves from their humanity. We forget that their hearts beat with longing and pain. For all practical purposes, we assume that the pulses of their spirits have been extinguished.” This condition will only diminish our own humanity.
Yes, difficult people can be hard to deal with. Yes, people can cause a lot of pain and distress in our lives. However, we do have the power to decide to transcend our own negative responses and take the road less travelled which will lead us to a peace beyond human understanding.