I’ve heard that we make a judgment about a person in the first ten seconds of meeting them. Whether we’re basing this on a vibe they give off, the look on their face, or the weird color of their shoes, we’ll never know, but that initial impression is carried with us as we go about the relationship. Every interaction after that either reinforces or goes toward changing that first experience.
Recently, I met a person who I quite simply don’t like. You’re probably not supposed to say that on a Christian blog, but it’s where I’m at—this is where we can be candid, right?
I had hoped, because he and I think similarly, that we would be able to get along swimmingly. Typically, if I can understand how your brain works and your motivation, I can connect with you on something. For the most part, I’m pretty easy-going and can make it work with many different personalities.
But not this guy.
In little and big ways, his actions were triggers for me. I would sprint away from each interaction, absolutely exhausted from our conversations. I realized that, probably unbeknownst to him, his actions and words read as nothing but shame to me. He is a person that requires perfection at every single turn and I am actively working to dismantle perfectionism’s hold on my life and mind.
One day, as I was complaining about him to the Lord, it finally hit me—we’re very similar. And I mean, very similar. This man who I can’t stand is just like me in a lot of ways—what does that say about me?
This man shone a light on many of the parts of me that I’ve been actively looking out for. Many of his behaviors are reminiscent of past struggles. And, because of all this, I’ve been able to more clearly see the deep work that the Lord has done and is continuing to do in my life.
God Has Grace For Me
The more time that I spend with the Lord, the more I become aware of my own brokenness. In the light of His utter perfection, I see my hurts, habits, and hangups clearly. Because He is without fault, sin, or need, I see those parts of me more and more. And yet, in the face of all my many flaws and weaknesses, He loves and chooses me. His grace for me will never run out, His mercy will never run dry. He will constantly pick me as His favorite, no matter what I do or is done to me.
When you see how much your life has changed because of the love of God, it changes everything.
God Has Grace For Them
The fact that God is gracious to me is difficult enough for me to accept, but accepting that He has grace for other people is even more difficult. But I’m not alone in being loved by God. The exact same grace He extends daily to me, He extends to others—even those I don’t like. Those people who overtalk me are loved by God. The man who is misogynistic and looks down on me because of my age and gender is the same one that Jesus died for. The woman who constantly puts me down so she can look better is a candidate for God’s mercy.
We Can Have Grace For Each Other
This is the hardest part of this equation for me. I want to be right and I want to only interact with the people I like. No one wants to surround themselves with those who belittle, undermine, or shame others. Even things like minor disagreements, differences in personality, and opposing preferences can make some people less than pleasant to be around at times.
And yet, no matter where we are on the relational spectrum, we are called to love and be gracious to those around us. Jesus told us to love our neighbors and, when asked who our neighbors were, He basically said “everybody”. He didn’t give us an out for those people who are mean or the ones we dislike. We don’t get a pass because their personalities are difficult. But, when we understand the grace and love that we’ve been shown, we can dare to be gracious and loving to those around us.
I do not have this all figured out. I’m really bad at loving people I don’t like and am still seeking the Lord about how to do this grace thing. But I have figured out this one thing: I can’t give grace to others if I haven’t first received it for myself. So, instead of beating myself up, I’m giving myself grace as I let God’s love change me. And as I receive more and more grace and love, I will be able to share grace more and more.