Take a minute to think of the person who annoys you most in your life, the one who always seems to find his or her way under your skin. That person who always seems to say the wrong thing at the wrong time and who most often brings out the worst in you. The person who knows every button to push to upset you. Now think about how you react when that person is in your midst. Do you try to avoid him or her? Do you find yourself saying things to or about him or her that you eventually come to regret? Does that person make you just plain grumpy for the rest of the day?
Not surprisingly, this is where my mind went when I read these words from Dorothy Day: “I really only love God as much as I love the person I love the least.” When I first stumbled upon this quote, I have to admit that it winded me as though I had been punched in the stomach. There are a few people that seem to know how to bring out the worst in me. I am not too proud of how I treat them. If Jesus himself were before me, I would never even dream of treating him that way. But here was this quote, laying it bare before me that I have indeed treated Jesus badly.
Perhaps I fell into a sort of “only see the good” approach of finding God in others. God is good, so I fooled myself into finding God only in people who are easy to love and in situations where it was easy to see the good in my behavior. Somehow, I doubt that’s what St. Ignatius had in mind. He encouraged us to find God in all things—the good, the bad, and even the annoying. When I put the face of Jesus on those few people in my life who excessively annoy me and prompt me to act less lovingly, that changes things.
I think many of us have the experience of knowing someone who brings out the worst in us but who is in our life whether we like it or not. While it seems easier to justify our behavior by pointing out the fault in theirs, the challenge will be to put Jesus’ face on them and to remember Jesus’ words: “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did it for me” (Matthew 25:40).
I can’t remember where the verses in the the Bible are. However we are required to visit peacefully but may also leave, if not received, peacefully and ‘shake the dust of our feet.’ It is a subtlety of what I call quiet evangelism knowing when to back off and leave another to contemplate. We shake the dust off the gospel at our feet and continue to be and make disciples despite the slap on the cheek. These lovely annoying folks are our brothers and sisters xx
It is a sign of spiritual development to show anger at the right moment (as Jesus did when he overthrew the money tables in the Temple. So many people are lose with the terms “abuse,” “bullying,” etc. Calling people names is a defensive mechanism designed to hurt and to show one’s superiority. It is my experience when two people in my family have hurled those expressions at me not to respond in kind for the statements people make are more about themselves than about me. If they are not religious, i.e. practicing Christians or another religion with the same basic ideas, you really have a problem because they may be not be coming from the same direction we are. Therefore, they hurl around these terms as a defensive mechanism in order to try to control others by casting blame because they cannot accept the fact that they have done something wrong since in their “philosophy” it is all about themselves, whereas in Christianity it is all about about how you treat others. When dealing with non-Christians as a Christian you can expect, on occasion, that you will be shunned and scorned for your values but you still have to stand firm and hold your ground regardless of what you are called.
Jesus did. We are not told that Christ is in all persons, we are told “to seek” Christ in all persons. These are two very different things. He may not be there yet. It is such hard work to be a Christian.
The annoying usually catches me off guard. Since I know God allows these moments as “vehicles for measuring my personal growth”, I can reflect on the event. I can evaluate that growth with how I handled the situation. It is my sister who with her Narcissism can throw me a curve. Yet she is wonderful in many ways. I choose not to carry on the grudge and observe whether I accomplished that by genuinely caring for her.
Thank you this has got me praying for the people who annoy me sometimes its family or very good friends god bless you
Thank you, I really needed these insights in my life.
Thank you for this reflection. It is so easy (relatively speaking) to find God in the good and the bad – the annoying, however, is a different story altogether. You have also reminded me of what my father always used to say to me when I would grumble about someone being very annoying. He’d say “they are not annoying you, you are getting annoyed” and make me change the focus of my thoughts. (It’s been 9 years since he passed on and its good to know he is still around sending me messages and reminders). Thank you.
Prayer for One’s Enenmies
Saint Thomas More (1477-1535)
Almighty God, have mercy on N. and on all that bear me evil will and would me harm, and on their faults and mine together, by such easy, tender, merciful means, as thine infinite wisdom best can devise; vouchsafe to amend and redress and make us saved souls in heaven together, where we may ever live and love together with thee and thy blessed saints, O glorious Trinity, for the bitter passion of our sweet Savior Christ. Amen.
I am going through an extremely diificult time with someone that was once the person I loved the most. Mant times I feel slighted and disrepected by this person and most times I supposed I respond in kind. This morning I was praying about this and then came across this article. Thank you!
First I want to say “Great post”. I loved it. But now I am trying to wrap my head around it. I agree in theory but I have been in several abusive relationships. I am trying to figure this out. Something is not right here. I cannot be around some “annoying” people or I get sucked into their drama. I feel like I have to be angry around them for my self preservation. Maybe this is something different altogether. I guess I could love them from afar. Any thoughts on this?
I know that I pray especially hard for those who cause me the most grief. I try to step back, not let their words drive me crazy so that they understand that their outrage or poor choice of words cannot control me.
Abuse is never acceptable. To stay in an abusive relationship is unhealthy for the abused and the abuser. We can forgive and pray for their healing but we don’t have to be abused.
There are times when we need to walk away from relationships. Abuse is one of those times. Some relationships are toxic and we need to protect ourselves. As Lori mentioned, we can forgive and pray for the person but from a distance.
Thank you for this powerful insight & reminder. God’s timing is always perfect. I really needed this today!! Blessings & more power to you, Cara. Cheers from Toronto.
I will need a LOT of Gods grace for this one. Thank you for reminding me.God Bless.
Thank you for the reminder. God bless you.
I have to keep reminding myself that God loves the other guy too, just as much as He loves me. At that point I try to see some good in this “other” guy. Then I have to look in the mirror and wonder whether the “other” guy sees God in me. Very thought provoking and worthy of reflection and contemplation and meditation and prayer. Thanks.
Helen, your comment made me chuckle. I am willing to be bet I AM the “other guy” for a few people! A humbling thought. I’ll have to remember that next time I am facing one of my more challenging acquaintances. Thank you.
Great perspective about the person in the mirror, Helen, thanks!
Yes, of course, there are people we respond to very positively and those we respond to negatively. We are human, not divine. Following Jesus is demanding and we do need to show our best to everyone. It’s challenging, isn’t it.
Pam – it is indeed a challenge. This post actually comes from my new year’s resolution. I am grateful that, while following Jesus can be demanding, He is always forgiving and patient!
I just happened to put in my Facebook and this was the first post. Think the ‘Big Man’ is trying to tell me something. Very powerful and challenging post
Thank you so much for this. I have certainly fallen into the trap of easily loving the loveable, but not treating the unloveable the same way. Your thoughts will help me try, and pray, harder.
That’s hit the spot….
I’ll work at it.
Us old folks say, “You hit the nail on the head”. Yep‼️You said everything I have learned and tried. People’s faces popped up and I said to myself, “You’ve gotta make this work this time. Thanks for the INSPIRATIION. Anna
Thank you so much for this article. God has been recently calling me on this and you have given clarity to His will.
Wow, that’s a powerhouse. Thank you, Cara. I liked everything about this post, especially the title. In today’s particularly divisive climate, this has extensive application and a lot of potential power.
A great reminder to love everyone. Thank you for the article. Will definitely share.
It is hoped I am up for the challenge! With God’s grace all things are possible. Loved your article, thank you.
This article is just what I needed at this moment.