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A Chance to Love My Neighbor

When things don’t go your way, they can still go God’s way.

Don't pass up the chance to act like a Christian when you're feeling angry or irritated.

Someone gave me the opportunity to love my neighbor. This happens regularly. I am sure that I offer others the same opportunity.

What happened was that I showed up at a city office that had not responded to letters or multiple phone messages. My problem involved something that–by law–the office should have done in each of the past two years, but had failed to do. I needed a quick response, mainly because I’d been trying to resolve the issue for over a month, to no avail.

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The person at the desk listened to my abbreviated tale of (much toned-down) woe and immediately said, in an accusing tone, “Why didn’t you call us two years ago?”

Given how much time and effort I’d already put into trying to resolve the issue, and how aggravated I was by even having to be there, I exercised my God-given right to keep my mouth shut until I formulated a civil response.

Read More: 5 Ways Anger Can Be Good for You

I smiled at this person and reminded myself that she was made in the image and likeness of God. I told myself that God loves her as much as He loves me. I replied mildly that the documentation I’d been given didn’t specify that it was my responsibility to remind the agency, and it had no phone numbers or names to contact. She absorbed this and, knowing it was true, softened.

Then I sat down to wait for a supervisor. The two ladies at the desk chatted with each other about speaking foreign languages in the home. The waiting area was relatively empty–I’d happened on a good time–and so eye contact was made, and eventually I entered the conversation. The one woman had a sister who married a Chilean/Japanese man, and another sibling who married someone who spoke Creole, Portuguese and Mandarin. The other woman grew up speaking Spanish and Italian at home and English everywhere else.

We chatted about the advantages of speaking more than one language. The first woman talked about how she’d been inspired to pursue higher education by someone at her school for the visually impaired (she was legally blind), and then we talked about how important it is to have encouragement and mentors. By the time the supervisor came out to talk to me I was almost sad to have the conversation interrupted.

Read More: 6 Ways to Deal with Anger

The supervisor got my problem resolved. He didn’t apologize for having ignored my inquiries, of course, and yet my time spent at the office was far from a loss. For I came in frustrated by being ignored, and then became irritated by the attitude of the woman at the desk.

And yet because I’d been given every reason to be annoyed and chose to respond as a Christian, I was able to relish the ways in which the desk ladies were, indeed, made in the image and likeness of God. Which was, perhaps, the point of the trip: to see that when things don’t go my way, they can still go God’s way.

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