As I was accelerating forward after reversing out of a parking space, three girls walked directly into the middle of the road, instead of veering to the sides. They looked unbothered, enjoying each other's company, smiling toward me.
My irritated mother in the passenger seat, she said, “Can you believe some people?” She was obviously referring to why those girls couldn’t have walked to the side, when they clearly saw me moving towards them. I just told her, “Yes, I can. I can believe them.” I said this half sarcastically and half seriously. Then after they had finally moved past us, I added, “You know what I like about people? It’s that, when I think I’ve met them all, I meet new ones.”
She laughed and ended up saying something along the lines of: “If you live your life understanding people that way, you’ll live a very peaceful life.”
I’m not a people person, and for a long time I've struggled in trying to fight with who people are: the different personalities, mindsets, characters, traits, attitudes, behaviours. Honestly, to me humans are so peculiar and frustrating, I can’t even begin to think how God gives every single one of us the time of day.
Just like the girls who refused to make way for me and continue with their leisurely stroll, I’ve met too many people whose actions I disagree with and can't comprehend. Most recently, I had an encounter with a superior at work whose response on an unjust matter left me in great disappointment. I’ve known him to be kind hearted, reasonable, funny, warm; human. But when I brought up the specific topic that was bothering me, I found him to be cold hearted, unfair, wishy-washy, and inconsiderate; again, human. I left that meeting upset – mostly because I was surprised by how his persona changed, to the point that I couldn’t believe this was the same person who acted differently before.
After I cooled off and thought things through, instead of making up excuses for his behaviour (I usually do this because I like believing in the good of all people. Someone could literally be stealing in front of me and I’d think, well, maybe they need that thing desperately!), I came to accept that that’s how he is. His response was based on what he thought was fine by him and made sense to him. In other words – in his mind, his offense to me was okay. And this is something I had to accept. It’s not like I’m saying it’s okay for people to act on wrong thinking and get away with it. But I’m saying, the only person who can change a person is that said person – and God. It’s not my job to try and convince someone that they are in the wrong when they have their mind made up.
It’s funny because humans are so predictable in that they’ll always let you down in one way or another. But I always get surprised when this happens, as in my head I'm always holding everyone up to a standard of goodness - my view of goodness. This is something I’m learning to let go of, and something I actually find fascinating, because each of us are so different. The fact that God can stand people who I think are autocrats and show blatant prejudices based off of factless nonsense, actually amazes me and baffles me completely.
Two verses come to mind on this topic.
In relation to people in general:
Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble
~ 1 Peter 3:8
In relation to authority figures:
Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God.
~ 1 Peter 2:18, 19
It may sound like a cop out when the Bible talks of having compassion on everyone, even when people offend you or others. But I think, if we want peace, we have to learn how to exercise love within ourselves and leave the justice to God, rather than take it into our own hands.