When People Drive You Crazy. That is the title of the P31 Devotion this morning (http://www.proverbs31.org/devotions/), and while I haven’t begun reading yet, I know I am thankful for the words that follow. For as is often the case…people drive me crazy, and lately, I have been wanting to be people free! But alas, I am called to be at peace with all people. Wait…even those people who are not living at peace with me? Those people who push my buttons and their own agenda regardless of my feelings or…or even logic for that matter? Or those people who just ware on you and ware on you?
“When a man’s ways please the Lord, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.” Proverbs 16:7
Luann Praters, author of this morning’s devotional, calls them Grinders. The people that just grind on you until all of your shine is gone and you have nothing left to give or you are ready to explode. They ware on your patience and your compassion. And sometimes in the worst of it all, we respond in anger and frustration instead of love and compassion, excusing our outbursts as, “I was just being honest.”
I work with students. Great students…and difficult students. They come to my office frequently with concerns related to their chosen course of study, an upcoming class they can’t get into it, problems with financial aid, and well, the list of complaints continues. Rarely do students come to my office to share praise reports, to chat over a cup of coffee, to say, “Good Morning Mary. How can I help YOU today?” No, they come instead to grind. They are in need. And I must fix their problem. And if I don’t, they, or their parents (we call them helicopter parents) will grind me down to no shine at all, leaving me exhausted and listless for the next happy customer.
But, I am not called to reply in anger or frustration. Rather I am to embrace each situation, pray for those who are “grinders” in my life, listen with compassion and respond with love. There will always be those who need a little bit of extra attention, but I should also feel comfortable to set limits and know when to walk away. Romans 12:18, the devotional verse for this morning, states, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” And well…sometimes it will just not be possible. However, rather than exploding or confronting the situation without love or compassion it is best to walk away or try, rather, to set boundaries and limits before the beast of anger and frustration ever begins to show itself.
And so, I think to my students. Yes, even in the midst of frustration, I endearingly refer to them as my students, because they are the reason I am here. God has put me in this place at this time to minister to these students–especially the grinders. And so I pray.
“And the Lord restored the fortunes of Job, when he had prayed for his friends.” Job 42:10a