Love Your Neighbor

Matthew 22:37-39 New International Version (NIV)

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b]

Love your neighbor. Perhaps the most difficult commandment.

Road rage.

Rude attitude.

Thoughtlessness.

Forgetfulness.

In examining my angry reaction to my daily life, I realized anger was my response to fear.  Fear that I’m not good enough.  Fear that someone was attacking me, emotionally or mentally.  Fear that someone would get more than me.  Fear that I would be exposed as a fraud.  Fear.

Accepting that in some ways, and at some times, I can be a fraud helped me diffuse the anger.

Accepting that in some ways, and at some times, I can be less than enough helped me accept myself.

Accepting that at some times I may get less than others.  It might not be fair and that’s ok.

Accepting myself for who I am, no more and no less, helped me accept my emotions.

The anger melted away.  It was almost magical.  Now I see anger as protection.  If I feel threatened, I ask what in me needs protecting?  I envision taking my former self, as a little child, and saying, it’ll be ok.  God commanded us not to worry, not to be afraid.

Matthew 10:29-31 New International Version (NIV)

29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.[a] 30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

Exposing the fear, took care of the lion’s share of the anger.  What about the little annoyances.  The pebbles in the shoe of life?  People (strangers in a rush) are annoying.  I like to avoid crowds of strangers at all costs.

How can I live with other people and not be constantly annoyed?

From chewing noises to bad driving to chronic interrupting to ignoring to downplaying, I find myself getting annoyed in my daily interactions.  Why are other people so annoying?

Recently, I observed a woman not wash her hands after using the restroom in public.  The public health person in me says, not washing hands is one of the cardinal sins.  Yuck.  It made me mad and annoyed.  She “should” know better.

My anger led me to fear, which led me to realize I’m afraid of catching something from her.  I could catch something just as easily from the cart handle.  Or the credit card machine.  Or the uncovered sneeze.  Which led me to remember, part of why I eat healthfully is to have a strong immune system.  I also wash my hands after returning home.  So, I have systems in place for a healthy immune system and preventing illness in myself.

I can’t control her or the hundreds of people who touch cart handles, door handles, or credit card machines.  I can only control my behaviors and attitudes.  Anger turned to fear turned to acceptance.  It just is.  My response is my choice.  Everything else it out of my control.

On the flip side of strangers, I need and crave human interaction.  Deep, meaningful connection.  And rest.  For every human interaction, good or bad, I need to recover.  I need time to rest and shed the emotions I’ve collected along the way.  To recharge my soul, my being.

Over the past few months, I’ve worked at increasing positive interactions while limiting negative ones.  I use grocery pick up and self-checkout whenever possible.  I paint with a friend regularly.  I schedule time to be alone.  Even if it’s just putting away laundry upstairs while everyone else is downstairs.

Maybe someday I won’t need as much recovery.

Maybe I’ll need more in the future.  Just knowing I need to work it into my schedule helps me be present for my life.  These little shifts and changes have produced a peace and contentment I’ve not known until now.  It’s amazing what a little perspective and tweaking can do.

Now I’d love to know, what’s your secret to human interaction?

 

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