I have a coworker whose favorite thing to say to the office is “you should go home and think about how you can be nicer to me.”
Do you see what this statement says about me and to me?
The problem is on my side.
The issues are all caused by me.
The tension all starts with me.
The responsibility for all wrongs is tilted all to one side – mine.
His viewpoint is centered around himself and his comfort. When you ask for clarity because his notes are detailed, you aren’t being nice to him. When you tell him he isn’t following company procedure and explain what you need him to do, you aren’t being nice to him. When you don’t fawn and gush and tell him he’s great, you aren’t being nice to him.
And what’s the common thread? You.
When you don’t ___.
When you don’t act like he wants you to act.
When you don’t respond like he expects you to.
When you don’t praise like he hopes you will.
When you critique him.
When you challenge him.
When you combat his sense of right and wrong.
When you. Because it’s always you.
There are no problems or attitudes on the other side – on I.
The same way the world works. With a “do unto me” mentality. Do for me. Whether I do unto you. Whether I appreciate you. Whether I treat you well in return. Because my value is great. So you first, and then maybe I will too. But always do to me and for me. Without exception.
Oh how different from God’s ways.
God never says “if you love Me first, then I will love you back.” He says “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love …” (Jeremiah 31:3) that started “… in Him before the foundation of the world …” (Ephesians 1:4).
God never says “if you will get your act together and put your life in order, then I will love you.” He says “I am the Potter (Jeremiah 18:4-6). Bring all your broken, chipped, and shattered pieces to Me so I can love you back to wholeness.”
God never says “if you follow all these rules exactly every day, then I will love you.” He says “rules never trump relationships, and how you treat people matters a lot to Me. The second most important commandment is ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’” (Matthew 22:39).
God says no matter what you’ve done, He loves you.
God says no matter what you’ve said, He loves you.
God says no matter where you’ve been, He loves you.
And He moved toward you first to prove it. The Cross is the ultimate symbol of His love for you. He allowed abuse and torture to His mortal body (Isaiah 53:5) to prove His love and show you what His love is for you.
God’s love is impenetrable (Romans 8:38-39).
God’s love is undefinable (Ephesians 3:17-18).
God’s love is magnificent (1 Corinthians 13:7).
And God’s love should be my light. It should point me in the right direction, to help me love people and treat them right no matter what (Matthew 5:46-47).
So light, please shine brightly. Because common sense says we will probably keep having the conversation about being nice at work. We each have our own perspective and may have a battle royale trying to prove the other one wrong. I think I have come up with a new reply to possibly shut down the tension before it starts – “it works both ways.” This doesn’t mean that I think he needs to do all the work or there are no problems on my side. But this also doesn’t mean I’ll let him run over me and put all the blame on me. I’ll see where I need to change, and I’ll work on being better. I’ll try to keep the tone out of my voice. I’ll try to keep the assumptions out of my thoughts. I’ll try to ignore the jabs and taunts meant to provoke. And I can only hope and pray that eventually he will see the same light and want to be nice.
Loving Father, help me remember the open arms of the Cross, meant to be a welcoming and intimate invitation to all. Please touch my heart so I can welcome all people into my space and treat them with compassion. Thank You for Your never-ending grace to help me toward these goals daily. In Jesus’ almighty name, AMEN!
Marie Fremin. 2/11, 2/12, 2/14/17