Each day when I set out from my home to work, I pause at the picture of Jesus mounted at a height that is at hand's reach for an adult. I love this picture because Jesus has his palm stretched out in blessing which I 'physically' experience. The suffering that Jesus incurred for us is unmistakable from the mark on His palm – a reminder of the crucifixion.
Before leaving the house, I pray, "Lord, bless this day and make it holy for me. Help me not to fall into sin by causing hurt to my fellowmen by what I say, do or think. Also, bless all my family members".
I tell myself that this day is going to be different. Indeed, it is different, but not as intended in my prayer. It takes very little for me to be unkind and resentful. I often wonder what makes me so. The answer to that question is my perception of the person and problem.
A colossal character error in us humans that is a cause of much of the problem we face in society. We judge a person in an instant based on experiences, influences and unjustified fears and inexplicable feelings of revulsions. Simple example would be someone with unkempt hair and beard is dubbed a rebel and possibly a drug addict, to be avoided.
There are people that we easily take to and there are people who not all the gold in the world will make us come anywhere near them. I am exempting from this discussion people whose physical deformities keep us away from them.
We know it is easy to like people who make us laugh, are genuinely interested in us and always have something nice to say about us and about others. It is not so easy to like people, who appear very serious, appear to talk only about themselves, and every time they have anything to say about anybody else, it is usually about that person's shortcomings and if there are any successes, it is attributed to dubious means.
I see in me a good mix of the two types of people described above. I want to be more of one, but I end up doing more of the other. I also tend to judge people by certain yardstick and 'label' them in my mind. Of course, we need to possess some form of judgment of people to avoid wrong kinds of contacts. However, here I am talking about people who pose no such threat.
Once so labeled, my behavior toward that person is usually consistently good or consistently bad and some variation of the two. Because of these labels in my mind, I willingly accept some in my life, and reject others uncharitably.
Do I like this state of affairs? No, I certainly do not. Nor would most normally brought up people. But, I am simply not able to help myself, at most times.
This inability to conquer this shortcoming can have adverse impact in the workplace and at home. In my line of work, as a communication specialist, a large part of my day goes in persuading people or getting persuaded by people or finding ways to get out of the way of persuading or getting persuaded by people.
The latter, "getting out of the way" happens when I have formed the view that there is no common meeting ground on the issue. Of course, we all know that there is a mature way to disagree without being disagreeable. The reality: all niceties are forgotten in the heat of the moment and all that matters is a display of one's supremacy of thought, leaving behind shards of hurt feelings. The cause is lost as well as the relationship. After such an incident, for days on end the mind will continue to debate, which was more important, the cause or the relationship. Unless the mind is fully discharged of the resentment of the moment, the question will never be satisfactorily answered.
The disagreement is usually on a silly point, provoked often by an uncharitable, hurtful remark, and suddenly the silly point becomes a life and death issue. Words, which on past occasions, in a similar situation, was left hanging at the tip of the tongue, and retracted into the mind for patient massaging, now come tumbling out, to render irreparable damage and a fractured, irredeemable relationship. A by-product of any such ugly, uncalled for situation is a raging headache, spot of intense loneliness and a few psychosomatic ailments thrown in.
When this happens in the workplace, you can be sure the issue is not just between two warring people. It involves the colleagues of the two people and in some sense the organization as a whole, because invariably it has some direct and indirect implication for the business. A quarreling person is tagged as someone you do not want hanging around you. This affects the person's potential to grow in the organization. Hence, the grace to be calm in a pressure-filled situation is a huge asset.
The same situation on the home front can be worse. You can leave your job and go elsewhere to work. There are no blood bonds. In the home situation, it can be tragic. You are separated from those who are yours for good or for worse. Through marriage, we are no more two, but one in Christ.
I share this personal note with you, because I am certain, if a generally mild-mannered person like me, so often finds himself in such sticky situation, so would many of you with bigger egos and worse tempers than me who are reading this note.
Hence, my daily prayer, "Lord, help me not to fall into sin, by causing hurt to my fellowmen by what I say, do or think". This I know Lord, whether it hurts my fellowmen or not (may be they are more thick-skinned and simply sneer at my effort), it sure does hurt me, and ruins my day. For me, each day is precious, to live in fellowship with God and my neighbor, to achieve God's purpose in my life. Do you have my problem? Then, pray my prayer. The Lord will answer. He is answering in my life.