I Am Not a Nice Person

In fact, I am mean.

When I go to the food store, I think mean things about many of the complete strangers I encounter there.  If I’m not pregnant, and I’ve just had a cup of coffee, I am very good at not sharing any of these mean thoughts.  On good days, I may even think some nice thoughts.  But on bad days, I not only think mean things, I find a way to say them.  Sometimes it’s just a nasty tone or a sarcastic comment, but on really bad days, it’s much worse.  And I may not even feel badly about how I have behaved until hours later.

On a normal day, when I approach the checkout counters, I scan the workers and look for the most capable cashier (this will be the fastest line).  I make snap judgments about who looks dumb or slow, and I avoid their line.  I also scan those in line in front of me, and I judge them.  “That person over there looks like she might struggle to find the right credit card.  That woman over there definitely plans to pay with a check and it will take forever.  That woman is dressed funny and I don’t want her to talk to me.”  I do this automatically.  If I make a conscious effort not to make these judgments and just pick a line, I wait and stew over how long it is taking and how slow everything is moving.  On good days I smile and nod when the cashier apologizes, saying “that’s ok.”  But I’m being dishonest.  Deep down, I am blaming her slow cashier skills for the delay and I’m vowing to never get in her line again.  For a brief moment, I am even considering never returning to that store.

My meanness isn’t limited to the shopping experience.  It is my disposition.   I see people dressed in sweatpants for Mass and I judge them.  “What is that guy thinking, tapered grey sweatpants are not appropriate for an afternoon on the soccer field, let alone a Sunday morning at Church.”  Sometimes I even think mean things about people wearing jeans, even though I have worn jeans to Mass myself.  That’s how mean I am. I don’t think about how they might be poor and unable to afford proper clothes for Mass.  I don’t think about how they may not know how to dress appropriately because nobody ever taught them.  I don’t think about how they may have been up all night at the local hospital with a sick family member and they are making a heroic effort to just show up at Mass in their sweatpants or jeans.  I don’t think any of these forgiving, gracious thoughts because I am mean.

I am not alone.  My husband is also mean (sorry Mr. Red) and most of my friends, including at least some of the builders (sorry ladies!) aren’t naturally nice either.  When I thought about it last night, I could only think of a handful of people who are really, truly, nice.  And yes, it’s pretty lousy of me to sit around and label all my friends and family members.  But what do you expect, I’m mean.

I wonder, do I seek out and befriend mean people, or do most of us just have more naturally mean dispositions?  Since I am mean, I want to think that the world is full of mean people, so no one gets an edge on me. But really, I think being mean is a common struggle, especially amongst highly educated people.

So now that I’ve established that I’m mean (and many of you are too), here are some ways that we can be less mean.

Ways to be Less Mean

1.  Remember your talents are a gift. Your intelligence, athleticism, appearance, and other unique abilities are gifts from God.  God could have just as easily made your brain work more slowly, made you look unattractive, made you nonathletic, made you tone deaf, or given you any other flawed characteristic in the eyes of this world.  Your abilities are a gift, and therefore you should take no personal pride in them.

2.  Remember how hard life is for many people. Not everyone went to college.  Not everyone grew up in a nice house with parents who loved them.  A lot of people have serious baggage due to dysfunctional family relationships.  They have never been loved and don’t know how to love.  They have never been taught how to be responsible or make good decisions.

3.  Remember that you are seriously flawed. This is why you are so mean.  Seriously, we all are very flawed.  I am mean, impatient, quick to respond, and hot-tempered (I could go on here).  If you are having trouble thinking of the ways in which you are seriously deficient, read some writings of the Saints.  The Saints were all very holy people convinced they were very flawed and in desperate need of God’s grace.  If you don’t see your flaws, you aren’t looking hard enough.

4.  Remember that appearances, talents and abilities are not important in the eyes of God. We will not be judged on our talents, but by what we do with those talents (remember the parable of the talents?).  Being good is way more important than being talented.

5.  Pray for Humility. With God all things are possible.  The blind see, the lame walk, and the mean people get nice.  Or something like that.  To really love other people we must ask for humility.  We have to do more than just not say those nasty thoughts in our head.  We must pray for the humility not to think them in the first place.

~Lord Jesus Christ, do not permit me to attribute to myself the good that you perform in me and through me, but rather, referring all honor to you, may I admit only to my infirmities, so that renouncing sincerely all vainglory which comes from the world, I may aspire to that true and lasting glory that comes from you.  Amen. ~  St. Francis Cabrini

  • Bethany “B-mama”

    Red, this post makes me laugh because I know you so well and I know that at the root of your “meanness” are some of your natural talents and gifts. Your competitiveness has helped you get so far in your 30+ years and yet can rear its ugly head as you approach the checkout lines. I know this because I suffer from it as well… I think the trick is not allowing that root character trait to take over and allow for greater sinfulness. Hard to do. Your snap judgements are, in part, survival mechanisms helping you get through the line in the fastest way possible. But you’re right in recognizing a potential flaw and attempting to overcome it (good inspiration for me!) We all fall short, my friend, which is why its so great to know of Christ’s grace. ;) Love you just as you are.

    • Magdalene

      Yea. I think you got it right. You don’t sound like a nice person. You sound a lot like a snob. Even in your confession of meanness, you sound quite prideful. I could have enjoyed your post more if I believed you had a true interest in changing your attitude, but it didn’t sound too sincere. You seem more preachy than contrite. Perhaps I’m wrong and I hope I am but I think this “meanness” is a real problem in society and not some fun headline to get people to read your column.

      • Kellie “Red”

        Ouch. This is one of the “meanest” comments I have ever received on one of my posts, so you are right, it is a big problem not only for society, but for people leaving comments on blogs ;-)

        And you are right again that I can sometimes be a snob. Fortunately, I’ve been trying hard not to be this way, which is why I wrote the column.

      • Bethany “B-mama”

        Wow, this is a really mean comment, M! Let’s try to build each other up here, okay?! I’m really impressed by Kellie’s honesty and don’t think she deserves your harsh words.

  • maryalice

    I would also add that the intensity of your (and my) life leaves little room for error — including other people’s error. My calendar is like a spreadsheet, and a slow or incompetent person can have a big impact on an already over full day. I think that this is another thing where adding in some hard breaks — I am going to stop and pray at certain times whether it is convenient or not — will really help me to grow spiritually and be more accepting.

    On the other hand, one of my struggles is with organization and recently I have been burned a few times by another person’s lack of organization, which has really helped me to understand how frustrating it is to be on the other side of a person being late, unreliable, etc.

    • BMM

      Amen. MA (and Red) – I really struggle with people (and there are a couple close to me) who are disorganized. In part because God made me naturally organized (I took over planning family road trips at 14) and as you note, in larger part, because the intensity of life requires organization for there to be any semblance of peace. I shudder with how unforgiving I can be. I have a hard time not seeing the disorganized person as selfish, when really they just have other talents. One person in particular, whom I love dearly, but has never been able to be organized, even with 9 kids. At the same time, she is without hesitation the most generous and self giving person I have ever known. I am not. She needs to work harder to be organized and disciplined. I need to work harder at being self-giving, even if it means diverging from my schedule or to-do list.

      Great post Red – wonderful way to start the week

      • Kellie “Red”

        BMM, that is another great point. If you struggle with being mean to someone close to you, take a moment to think about all the ways in which they are gifted and you are not. We all usually have different strengths and weaknesses, and it helps me tremendously to think about that other person’s strengths. Some of the kindest people I know are also rather disorganized, so perhaps being mean comes with being a “doer” and focusing on our checklist over the people…

        • maryalice

          And in thinking about that other person’s strengths, to think, what can I learn from them? One thing I have realized recently is that people who LOOK much more put together than I do, in appearance, are often people who do a little less and take a little bit more time for themselves. This is not selfishness, it is just being realistic that dressing for the day takes more than 5 minutes, so you have to give yourself a chance!

          Also, one of the most important things that I have ever been told is spiritual direction is to pray for an increase in love towards the people who are angering me — for whatever reason that may be — not to pray that they change, but to pray that my heart changes towards them, and just to pray, generously, that they would be blessed and successful in whatever God has planned for them. It can be really frustrating in a human way to be happy for someone else’s success when you can see a lot of faults in that person, but we shouldn’t be hoping for anyone’s downfall!

  • fymw

    Right there with you! My Lenten resolution was to purge each dark, mean, judgmental thought by praying for myself not to think those things and then for the person, about any unknown, hidden struggles they might be facing. it really did help, although I still struggled at times! I didn’t do so well with the being more patient part–how DARE people waste my precious time?? ;P and I don’t have children yet! But working on patience when driving at least. As my husband always tells me, all it does is add stress and unhappiness to my own life to continue judging and getting mean all the time (although I find that he is mean too enough of the time! Haha). How I wish letting things roll off my back came naturally!

  • http://www.buildingcathedrals.com Katrina

    Kellie, you have been such a good friend to me over the years, so I think that you’re very nice :)
    Truly, though, this is an honest and well-written reflection, and a great way to start the week. We all struggle with a root sinful tendency – I think that they all boil down to vanity, pride, and sensuality – and it is crucial that we recognize this in ourselves. Praise God for the grace to be self-aware and to make changes as needed. There is nothing worse than a person who has no clue that they are flawed, as we all are – I pray the most for these people!

    • Kellie “Red”

      Thanks Katrina! And I think it goes without saying that you are really, truly, one of those “nice” people I thought about when I was reflecting on my own meanness. I often wonder, “what would Katrina do,” when I’m thinking mean thoughts and getting ready to say something I will later regret.

      • http://www.buildingcathedrals.com Katrina

        There is a verse in a song that we sing at Mass that has the phrase “Cure us of our sinful calmness,” or something to that effect, that always gets me. I can be very calm and I guess that most people would describe me as “nice,” but I am definitely aware that this can be sinful when action and righteous anger are required – i.e. when an injustice is being committed, when a politician is acting immorally, etc. Whereas I think that you (and many of my friends with similar personalities, whom I so admire!) are quick to act and respond to injustice and immorality, I need to give myself a jolt and force myself to speak out and take action. My inclination is to pray and have personal conversations with others, but sometimes, more is required.

  • http://www.wholemama.com Amy

    Ha, love your humorous, but honest post. My husband says I run on a cable connection while he’s dial-up. It’s caused no small amount of, ahem, conflict in our 20-odd years together. But his ‘slower’ ways balance my more impulsive ones: He’s great with the details I’m too impatient for. I am a starter, he’s a finisher. I’m what’s needed in emergency situations, he’s what’s needed for day-to-day stability. It’s only taken two decades to begin to not let our differences bug the skittles out of me. And, once in a great while, when the stars are aligned just so, I try to remember that love is the great converter…not speed of thought or action, not eloquence, not passion, not a penchant for organization. Without love, the impact of our gifts is seriously weakened. But, think what we could do if we wrap them in love…
    Sigh, and prayers to do better, for all of us.

    Cheers to you for being so achingly truthful. It’s won you a fan;)

  • Karen

    Ha! Now I know why we became fast friends! I can be quite cynical and sarcastic myself. A truly mean person will feel absolutely no regret or guilt about being mean. The fact that you show remorse is a sign, not only of your character, but of your strong faith in God. We all have problems or hooks, as I like to call them. Hooks are really good at making us sin. I loved your list of how to help this mean problem. What helps me also is to think the best of other people – like your example of the gray sweat pants. When I am shopping I scan checkers too, I especially look for nice ones who look like they work hard. It doesn’t matter what skin color, age or piecing they my have, I look at their facial expression – making metal compliments about them.

    We all have flaws, some flaws bother me more than others, but I think we can love people for who they are as a person at that moment. We know they are working on things like us, so we show them grace as God has shown us grace.

    What is ironic is that I was just thinking the other week how nice you are to me! During the preparations for my father’s funeral I was referred to as a mistake (aka unplanned & unwanted pregnancy), “jokingly” told I wasn’t wanted around, and even my sister’s dog trumped my privilege of having the 1st grandchild. All this was done by a family that swears they love me, but feels no remorse or question of their actions from what I can tell. That is mean. I know you have your opinions and your way of delivering them :-), but to me, you are apart of my haven from that sort of meanness, along with my own sweet family and other “good” friends.

    Side comment – put mean comments from your blog in your Martha Stewart Syndrome file and use them in a post as examples :-)

  • JMB

    This is a good one Red. My first thought was that you should go back and read (or read again) David Foster Wallace’s commencement speech at Kenyon College a few years ago. He has some great insights about the check out counter experience. One of the things that I think you learn with age (and I think I’m probably about 15 years older than you ladies) is that you will get majorly slapped down by life in the next decade or so, if it hasn’t happened already. Having a major failure, like a business gone bad, a kid gone bad, a marriage go bust, a major financial mistake or a death in the family usually, but not always, corrects the inner mean girl. Especially as you near middle age. You then look around you and you realize how wrong you’ve been about just about everything in your life.
    I used to think I was something special. I’m thin and athletic, I have nice clothes and always “put together” and my kids were really cute and well behaved. My house was nicely decorated and we traveled and did a lot of cool things as a family. I had it all figured out. I had my friends pegged, my family pegged, my marriage pegged, you name it, I was right about everything, until I wasn’t. That’s when I found Christ in the Eucharist and started going to Mass as often as I could. That’s the corrective.

    • http://www.buildingcathedrals.com Katrina

      JMB, I love this comment, thank you for sharing and for giving us some perspective!

  • KC

    I imagine you Builders have seen this book before, but in case you haven’t:

    http://www.amazon.com/The-Hidden-Power-Kindness-Practical/dp/1928832008

    It’s wonderful. It’s a book that I probably need to be perpetually reading for the rest of my life. My first thought should never me that a stranger is a potential enemy (slowing me down at the grocery store, not dressed nicely enough for me to like, etc.), but a friend–hopefully a “real” friend–but if not, always a friend in Christ.

  • Jess

    Thank you for this post. I have been really struggling with anger issues: trying not to be angry with people who get in my way on the road, in line, or even my children when I am trying (desperately) to get some work done. But — Who am I? And why am I rushing anyway? It really is a matter of pride. I also agree with JMB about the Eucharist. Mass is (literally) my saving grace. It is the only thing that can diffuse my meanness.

  • LS

    First of all, I think judging which checkout line to be fastest is completely sensible. But when it comes to the thoughts that are not Christ-like and need to change, here are two thoughts:
    1) Judging breeds judging. I watched two friends feed upon each other’s judgmental comments of those around, all of which made them feel better about themselves, until they began to think that everyone judges like that, and began to feel very insecure, and felt the need to live up to their own (not God’s) unrealistic standards. Don’t fall down that spiral! And notice when others you are with are similarly judgmental or validate your own “meanness”. It can feel good in the present but will not help you to take control of those thoughts.
    2) How you judge others is closely linked to how you judge yourself. Forgive others and you will more easily be able to accept forgiveness yourself. Likewise, if you are too hard on yourself, you will be hard on others. If you won’t forgive yourself for your own good, do it for your kids and your friends, because if you can forgive yourself for your failings, after you have confessed and repented, then you will much easier be able to do the same for others’ failings.

  • http://thisaintthelyceum.org Kelly M.

    My humility and great personal insight leads me to believe I am one of your few cheerful and upbeat friends. Let’s schedule that playdate sooner rather than later and maybe some of my endless patience and good nature will rub off on you. ;) I will be sure to share this with all the mean and angry people I’m am forced to endure on a regular basis. Do you think this post is too advanced for a 9 year old?

  • AMDG

    Thank you for your honest reflections on who you (and most of us) are and want to be. :-) You might find the book Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell an interesting read as most of the situations you describe seem to be judgements and, as pointed out by others who know you well, might be a strong attribute of yours as well. Isn’t it funny how our greatest strengths can be our greatest weakness as well. Also, I offer you this litany composed by Cardinal Merry del Val…
    O Jesus! meek and humble of hear, Hear me.
    From the desire of being esteemed, Deliver me, Jesus.
    From the desire of being loved, …”….”
    From the desire of being extolled,…..
    From the desire of being honored,…
    From the desire of being praised,….
    From the desire of being preferred to others, ….
    From the desire of being consulted,….
    From the desire of being approved,….
    From the fear of being humiliated,….
    From the fear of being despised,….
    From the fear of suffering rebukes,….
    From the fear of being calumniated,…
    From the fear of being forgotten,…
    From the fear of being ridiculed,…
    From the fear of being wronged,….
    From the fear of being suspected,…
    That others may be loved more than I, Jesus grant me the grace to desire it.
    That others may be esteemed more than I,….
    That in the opinion of the world others may increase and I may decrease,….
    That others may be chosen and I set aside,….
    That others may be praised and I unnoticed,…
    That others may be preferred to me in everything,….
    That others become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should….

    Peace :-)

  • Juris Mater

    Kellie, thank you for this post. I have learned so much from the comments. Thank you all. For a proud peacock like me, there is about a year’s worth of food for thought here!

  • http://www.megnanimity.blogspot.com MjdMom

    Thanks for your honesty. I could have written most of this piece! To quote my Grandma, “I am a miserable sinner who loves Jesus madly!” I sometimes wonder if part of my inner mean girl had a lot to do with swimming against the tide growing up. I felt like I had to insulate myself against the culture- i.e. “those idiots don’t know how stupid they are to do x,y,x”. Only as I have gotten older has it been easier to stifle the mean girl reflex. Life is hard and people are trying their best. I just keep thinking that Jesus wouldn’t be as harsh as I feel like being. I also found the Bennett’s book on temperments enlightening for dealing with some of those closest to me. I am very much a “just get with the program” person…I can’t tolerate people not getting the job done, and that book helped see others in a better light which helps me (sometimes!) be more charitable and loving.

  • cabria
    • Kathy

      Just watched the video – great food for thought. When we know what might be people’s situations – it makes us more patient. I would love a pair of those glasses.

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  • Christy

    This post brought to mind a favorite passage in The Imitation of Christ. “A true understanding and humble estimate of oneself is the highest and most valuable of all lessons. To take no account of oneself, but always to think well and highly of others is the highest wisdom and perfection. Should you see another person openly doing evil, or carrying out a wicked purpose, do not on that account consider yourself better than him, for you cannot tell how long you will remain in a state of grace. We are all frail; consider none more frail than yourself.” Thomas a Kempis
    It has always struck me that the author writes that we should not even dare to think ourselves better than those openly doing evil much less those who are not acting immorally just annoyingly :). Like you said in your final point, the real struggle for me is not in trying to have more patience with those less gifted, or competent, or organized than I but to stop thinking of myself as so much more gifted, competent and organized than everyone else. Of course it’s not wrong to call a spade a spade (i.e. this cashier is not performing his/her job well, this person dropped the ball on the VBS t-shirts, etc.) but the root of my anger at those people is often my own vanity. Prayers for us all, ladies. Christy

  • maryalice

    As I was reading the Catechism tonight, I came across the reminder that you can have all the virtue and talent in the world and it is worthless if you do not have charity — love for your fellow man. It goes hand in hand with this post because I guess that we all need to be working, all the time, to grow in love and compassion for one another. In some ways, it is easy to have compassion for a truly needy person far away – to send money to Africa, for example, but then so hard to have compassion for the person right in front of us who is driving us bonkers!

  • ontheroad

    Thoughtful post. JMB makes some really insightful comments. And for some of us, those experiences come sooner than middle age. Once you have a close family member who is on the receiving end of the “meanness,” whether it be as the grocery store checker, or the individual dismissed for her seemingly insignificant comments at a gathering, you suddenly — and more frequently get a clearer view of how our smugness at having it all together and thus oh-so-capable of judging others can eat out the insides of the individual who struggles with life and knows that s/he is constantly judged and ridiculed by his or her more capable human beings. Hearing about day-to-day life from someone like this, in all its brutal honesty has brought me to tears on many an occasion — and has made me feel so ashamed of my behavior towards others. May we all be gentler to our fellow human beings. Life can be difficult, complicated, trying – and for some, it’s even more than that — not to mention that these same people are often cheated out of the wonderful friends, colleagues, family and support that so many of us are blessed with.

  • Kellie “Red”

    I have been very blessed by all these comments/suggestions and book recommendations. Thank you all so much for taking the time to share so many encouraging and uplifting thoughts/advice.

  • Gina

    JMB and ontheroad’s comments are so important. There’s a saying, sometimes attributed to Plato: “Be kind, for every person you meet is fighting a great personal battle.”
    I try and keep that in mind when my inner mean girl things she has something to say…

    • Gina

      That is, “when she THINKS she has something to say”…

  • Kayte CookWatts

    Most people do the same thing, they just don’t admit it on a blog.What you dislike in others is usually a reflection of what you fear about yourself. So, when you notice yourself being nasty, just turn your focus inward & try to figure out what you’re afraid of.

  • http://www.TotusTuusFamily.blogspot.com Allison

    Didn’t know about “the builders” until I found a link to this post on twitter. Was excited to read the Kellie is from Philadelphia. Glad to find you so I can read more. Raising and homeschooling my children has made me so ashamed of how mean I had been and I am sure that I still fail.

    But I do try to always smile, which mostly makes people look at me like there’s something wrong with me…

    What happened to smiling? Is smiling out? In any event, I am quite used to being uncool and appreciate the opportunity to examine my conscience, via this post on this First Friday our regular confession date.

    • maryalice

      Kellie is from Jersey, don’t let her try to fool you! We have two builder families that are big time Philly sports fans, though! Welcome to our conversation, Allison. I think that smiling actually helps me be nicer and happier, so it is a great first step.

    • Kellie “Red”

      But I was born in Philly, so I’m originally from Philly and now I live about 15 minutes outside of the city in Jersey.

  • Mark Evans

    Very true! I might also recommend a tried-and-true classic: Dale Carnegie’s ‘How to Make Friends and influence People.’ Far from being a 21st-century ‘how to manipulate people’ book (which I had always assumed it was before actually reading it), it focuses on putting ourselves in other people’s shoes & pondering what THEY may be feeling or going through and acting accordingly. Not surprisingly, he writes, if we DO that, the vast majority of the time that person WILL react to us the way we want. The whole idea, though, he STRONGLY emphasizes, is to change our own lifestyle/mindset & consider others’ feelings.

  • http://notlukewarm.blogspot.com/ Deanna

    Isn’t admitting we have a problem the first step to a solution. I am a snob at times and judgmental, I try to remember that everyone has stuff in their lives and not be so harsh, but then I wonder when people will acknowledge my stuff?

  • http://lesliesholly.wordpress.com Leslie

    I sincerely try to BE nice to all the people I encounter. Thinking nice thoughts, though–that’s harder. I especially appreciate your comments about not taking pride in our natural gifts. That’s something else I need to work on. Thank you.

  • Charles

    Hi. I wish I can experience the same light you did when this inspiration hit you. You were really describing me, only am meaner. I realized this when I did the Ignatian Spirituality retreat. It calls for very honest introspection and that is what I sense you possess. Never mind the mean comments. You have rankled my ego with your honesty. The struggle against these traits is what is most important; not the, discernible, strides you have made in your spiritual life, which could give rise to pride–the fruit of Satan. It is unfortunate that some Christians live by the rules as opposed to the Spirit. If you dont seem to, visibly, tow the line you are doomed and ruthlessly judged. They have shoved Jesus off the mercy throne. Am moved to go for confession.

  • Joanna

    Hello Kellie ‘Red’ Honestly, I think you are being too hard on yourself. I don’t know exactly why or how you judge people, but if it is an automatic reaction it certainly is not your fault. It is part of your character, I guess. The important thing is not to act on your judgements and let the people you judge prove themselves. Very often you might find you were right in your judgements anyway! I judge people too and like you it is something I just do automatically and unintentionally. I never act on it though but let the person prove himself. Unfortunately, very often I am right in my conclusions. However, I also have to say that it is part of my nature to analyse and set things in perspective (including people unfortunately) and I do not do it with mean intentions. Unfortunately, it is also something I have learnt because I was too trusting in the past and I got abused (and still do!) many times, so it is a defensive mechanism for me, and in a way I am grateful for this capability, believe it or not.

  • Anon

    Another practice that I’ve found helpful is praying for the people that have annoyed/bothered/upset/angered me in any given day. I find that by sincerely holding them in my heart (even if I don’t know their names) and offering real prayers that they are happy, healthy, and have what they need, that my negative feelings lessen and are replaced by genuine love. Over time, this has helped to reduce my rush to judgment in the first place.

  • Tim

    Many blessings “Red!”

    Everyday I have to remember to have a soft heart and hard feet. Tender towards others. Tough enough to go where people are hurting and where I might get hurt.

    Too often we have hard hearts and soft feet. We ignore others who are hurting. We just them. At the same time, any little thing hurts our tender toes. We are not tough at all. We seek comfortable safety where there is no danger of suffering.

    So may we have soft hearts, hard feet. Like Jesus. Amen!

  • maryalice

    I know that this post is about bigger questions than the check out experience, but I had to share mine this weekend. I was in a hurry, and the lady running the register was painfully slow, doing really odd things like asking for certain items out of my cart rather than just scanning the items I had put on the belt already. With two little boys touching every candy bar in the aisle, I just wanted to get out of there, and I had to do some deep breathing exercises and roll my eyes to the person behind me in line just to hold in my frustration.
    When I got home, I realized that this woman had done THE BEST BAGGING JOB I HAVE EVER SEEN! Seriously, I didn’t know that there was an art to it, but putting away my groceries took about 5 minutes because all of the items were so carefully sorted.
    Now the truth is, some people are just going to be less competent than us, and we do have to grow in love and patience for those people, but in this case this woman was super competent, just not in a way that I could appreciate at the time. It was part of her temperament to do things methodically and correctly, even if that took a little bit of extra time, whereas my temperament demands barreling action and deals with the mess later.

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  • Karen

    This made me laugh because you describe yourself as very choleric, according to the four temperaments! I have been analyzing myself, family, and friends since listening to a CD on it. It even suggests best ways to pray, to develop your strengths, and to minimize your weaknesses from a Catholic perspective. I have listened to it numerous times in the car. It is available from Opus Sanctorum Angelorum and can be ordered online: opusangelorum.org. :)

  • kimberlee

    Thank you for your honesty! I confess, I have more trouble being nicer to my children than to anyone else. How unfair to them! I have been so deeply convicted by this lately. I have to see them through Christ’s eyes, they are my brothers and sisters, not just my children, but God’s children too.

    I think what will help us all be less mean is God’s Word. Jesus commands us to love one another. It’s not based on how we feel, whether we’ve had our coffee yet, or how long the line is. It’s a commandment. And by abiding in Christ, it comes much easier. It is hard to love others! We cannot do it on our own, only by the power of Christ living in us and us drawing near to Him.

    John 13:34-35 A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
    John 15:9-17 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another.
    1 John 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.
    Romans 13:8 Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.
    Ephesians 4:2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,
    1 Peter 1:22 Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart,

  • Anon

    God’s not real though.


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