For example, when our three children were growing up, I noticed that when they are 'alone', such as on a date with me, each of them had the ability to be extremely angelic. However, when they were ‘together’, especially in the backseat of our car, something demonic seemed to emerge! “He hit me, … she hit me first… he’s looking out my window … no, I’m not … she’s ignoring me, dad … he ignored me first … etc, etc.” You get the picture! Yet it was in their interaction with one another that their character had the potential of growing the most.
It’s the same with us – qualities such as patience, kindness and forgiveness are easy when you’re by yourself but it’s in the daily real life interaction with other people that we are really tested and where these qualities have the potential to be worked into our character.
- I can be very patient when I'm not waiting for someone.
- I can be very forgiving when no one has offended me.
- I am very kind when no one is being mean to me.
It is in the very process of doing life with other people – with all of their idiosyncrasies – that we grow and mature as people. Even a challenging relationship can be as powerfully transforming as a relationship that happens almost without effort – maybe even more so.
Solomon, one of the wisest persons who ever lived, wrote this over 2,500 years ago:
"As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another." Proverbs 27:17.
That sounds like a bit of friction and a few sparks to me!
When you become part of a family, a team, a neighbourhood or a small group, there will be people who are different than you there, maybe very different! Yet, often these kinds of relationships provide the opportunity for us to grow and develop the most. They draw us out of our comfort zones and stretch our loving capacity.
Are you having a challenging time with someone right now? Maybe instead of trying to get rid of them or removing yourself from them, consider what change or transformation this situation could work out in you – if you responded differently (0f course, I'm not talking about staying in abusive or unsafe environments).
Life change … think about it.