We have very little control over how any other human being behaves. And the older another person is, the less control we have.
Why do we spend so much time trying to control the behavior of others? And why do we spend so much time being bothered by the behavior of others? Allowing ourselves to be bothered by others means that we are letting ourselves be controlled by others.
Detach from the need to impose your control on another person’s behavior. Do yourself a favor, and detach. If genuinely pure motives prompt you to attempt to influence others, be wise in how you apply your influence … and detach from the outcome.
Letting ourselves be bothered by the mal behavior of others is way too common, and mostly unfruitful. Notwithstanding righteous indignation, we would do well to detach as much as possible from the mal behavior of others … and certainly not let ourselves be bothered by it.
But the self is sometimes very fragile, and easily bothered or offended or threatened.
As if on queue, God just allowed me to feel offended. Perhaps even more than allowed it, perhaps God even orchestrated the scenario which offended me to let me experience it firsthand so that I can write about it now.
I’m sitting on an airplane bound for San Francisco, and the Flight Attendants just came through offering drinks and snacks. I got my drink, but the Flight Attendant who served me forgot to give me some peanuts. She said, “I have to wait until the other Flight Attendant gives me some peanuts to give you,” but the other Flight Attendant was busy processing a meal purchase. So I waited patiently, and suddenly I realized that the cart made its way further down the aisle and they forgot to bring me some peanuts.
I was offended.
I thought about getting up from my seat and walking up to the Flight Attendant to say, “Excuse me, but you forgot to give me some peanuts.” And for good measure, maybe I would give her the “I’m a little disappointed with you” look. Fortunately, common sense prevailed – I’m not going to starve … and common courtesy also prevailed – I’m by the window, and don’t want to disturb the two people sitting beside me.
Is it possible to live a perfect life and perfectly respond in all circumstances to all people? Is it possible to perfectly interact with others? Not a chance, and to think that we can live perfectly in relationship to others is to abandon the grace of God.
But what about the Bible verse that says, “Be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect”? Honestly, I am not sure what that means. I interpret it to mean that we should strive to be as godly as possible, but remember that we will never achieve Godhood.
God’s grace extends to all people. There has never been, and there never will be any sinner who can rise above sin and achieve perfection in this life.
I am 48 years old, and I can say with certainty that I have never met a sinner that now personifies complete godliness. Perhaps there are those around me who think that they have achieved perfect godliness or will achieve it, but I have not met any past-sinners who have achieved it.