I shared a recent shopping experience with an irate customer who was behind me in the checkout line that reminded me that in life we will encounter times when we’ll have to deal with difficult people. It’s perhaps smooth sailing in displaying agape love towards others when we feel others are showing kindness back. It’s more complicated to act unbothered when we’re challenged to deal with others we find difficult, rude, meanspirited, or inconsistent. There are times we’re tempted to give people right back what they throw at us when they act thorny, but we know as believers in Christ not to go there. One of the biggest test in displaying godly behavior are the ways we interact with people who challenge us in keeping our cool in showing God’s love.
Fight Flight Freeze
A customer in the checkout line behind me made his rants loud that my friend and I needed to be moved to the side of the line since the new cashier had trouble looking up the barcode on one of our items. The disgruntle customer had no clue that we also waited nearly 30 mins for the same nervous cashier to resolve the same issue with a previous customer’s barcode situation. He later attempted to cause a mini uprising involving the other customers waiting in line to see if they could all agree that we should be moved to the side in starting back over, so he could check out quickly to freely leave. A fellow customer attempted to look up the item on her cellphone to help the cashier and manager resolve the issue, but she failed as well with finding the stinking barcode. I appreciated that although she was frustrated waiting like everyone else that she decided to be proactive in helpfulness rather than projecting her annoyance on everyone else. My friend was feed up with the vexed customer’s rants. He wanted to give a piece of his mind right back after hearing the guy mentioned that we should ” Just be moved to the side” like we too didn’t wait in the line long. My friend is over 6ft tall, large, and although a soft teddy bear at heart had smoke blowing from his ears regarding the whole situation looking ready to set it off himself if the guy said one more word. The cashier teared up in wanting to run away from the hostility that was escalating. A few customers froze in not knowing what to do. I shook my nerves in being firm , yet I was assertive in sharing with the guy I understood his irritation. I shared that the issue was beyond the customer’s control, we were all disappointed about waiting so long ourselves, and I let him know that we’re staying in place to complete our transaction. He thought hard, and he put his items away in walking out the store. Whew! The drama for buying a bike for my son for Christmas.
You Can Do It
I haven’t always been the best in dealing with difficult people in the past. The younger me would give them right back what they dished out. I later grew to shutdown in avoiding conflict at all cost in literally running away from it later ruminating on how I should of spoken up for myself with self- assurance. There were times when I had to be around someone so challenging that I just froze in distancing myself all together in dealing with someone difficult in pulling the friendly avoidance act to not have any interactions with them at all although due the proximity of us being co-workers, family members ( in my case an in-law), or back in the day a few church members it wasn’t possible. Those three behaviors aren’t healthy , and they are not of God in how we should treat others. The bible tells us to love our enemies , and we are to act in love to those who act difficult. I learned that I actually get the opposite when I don’t retaliate hate with hate over time. I saw that people who acted inconsistent in behavior struggled internally with the same. I’ve found that in being kind in some scenarios I later gained an unlikely friend; there were some scenarios that we didn’t become friends, yet there was knowledge of what boundaries not to cross in the future with a mutual understanding. I learned that some people harbored deeper issues that they projected in hate towards others in which innocent people were collateral damage caught in the crossfire of the war they had going on with themselves. I learned that some people have no real explanation behind their difficult behavior, but my faith in God wouldn’t allow me to stoop to the level of their character. I don’t believe in ” Killing them with kindness” as a metaphor in dealing with difficult people, but I know hate with hate makes the problem grow even larger. The art of dealing with difficult people isn’t anything fancy with pop psychology in mind games, but it’s the art of extending the same grace in love that Christ gave his life on the cross for all of us in mercy in displaying kindness in good measure.
Luke 6:27-36 27 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.