I know a lady who, clad in designer clothes and donning a high end hairdo, will enter any room and scatter its occupants. This sounds harsh, but she personifies the words grumpy and mean, and anyone who knows her knows that she views them as inferior, inadequate, or both. It never occurs to her that she’s who nobody wants to grow up to be.
As Christians, we know that “they will know us by our love.” When we meet mean people, we sometimes are “pushed past our limit” and tolerate them, at best, and give it right back to them, at worse. I’m certain that this mean old lady sees very little Christian charity. She’s in a category of her own and probably pushes most people, even Christians, past their personal “limits.”
Her story was told with the vulnerability of someone who is truly confused and even contemplative about their tale.
It was rare to see kindness manifest in this mean old lady. Nonetheless, kindness had triggered kindness, even from these deep, dark, mean wells of bitterness and entitlement. As I heard the story I secretly hoped this benevolent neighbor was a Christian. I was hoping that this relationship would lead her to know Jesus. Wouldn't that be amazing? It would be.
Except that it occurred to me that I had missed a slew of chances to be kind to Ms. Meanie in many ways. Why hadn’t I shoveled her car? She didn’t deserve it, I had thought about three dozen times, minimum. You gotta be kidding me, her? Those were my actual thoughts that led to nothing productive for anyone. I became envious of this good Samaritan. She had seized a moment that I had shirked. Bummer for me. Bummer for Jesus. But He had found someone else to do His work when I had declined.
Mean old ladies, mean old men, difficult people, young and old, are opportunities.
I could have been the puzzlingly nice lady who helped this mean older one, but I wasn’t. I hope I can be for the next grumpy person that God presents before me. These are Luke 6:28 moments; “bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” In the Greek the word used here for bless is makarios (mak-ar’-ee-os). It means to make happy, blessed or to be envied. Yes, it’s a stunning realization, but we’re supposed to go around trying to make the people who curse and mistreat us happy and enviable. A high order, but we can do it.
We can do it because it has been done for us, over and over by our loving Father. This mean old lady was transitioned into kindness by kindness. This is how we can make the world a better place. We may not see the results of investments personally, but what goes around comes around. Anything done for God’s Kingdom benefits us all. I was allowing my mean old lady, and those like her, turn me into a mean younger lady. Ouch. It’s time to turn it around, and with God’s grace, guidance and love, I will! I hope that all of us will.