The More I Work with People, the More I’d Love My Dog…if I Had One

The summer semester at the college where I work is ending and that means business for my department–the Testing Center.  As students come to test for their online classes, they have provided fascinating examples for a people-watcher like me.  I have observed–

1)  People don’t listen.
2)  Adults ask to go to the bathroom just as much as children.
3)  People expect to be remembered even if you talked to them 45 students ago.
4)  A cheese stick is the ultimate stealthy snack and, if you’re good, you can hide it in your hand while typing.
5)  People expect to have the rules bent for them.

After a week of dealing with malfunctioning computers and frantic students, I found myself more than a little annoyed with the people around me.  Why don’t they just do what they’re supposed to?  Good grief, people are hard to love.  It’s much easier to snap, belittle, and judge than to love them.

I’ve spent the last few months contemplating the possibility of teaching overseas.  I wanted to go to a country that hasn’t heard about God and use teaching as an avenue to show God’s love to others.  Trouble is, people are irritating everywhere you go in the world.  Sure, the U.S. seems to own the market on know-it-alls, but the truth is people are more alike the world over than they are different.  And it struck me this week–humans will irritate me everywhere I go.  And am I any different?  I, who so often do things my way, not God’s way.  I, who so often turn my back on the help God provides in His Word.  I, who read God’s Word, only to continue the same pattern of action and not change.  But God is infinitely patient with me.  He forgives.  He doesn’t roll His eyes at me or lose His temper and speak in sharp tones when I fail to listen.  He may correct me, but He does not get irritated like I do.  He is love personified.

Jesus said the greatest commandment was to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.  And the second was like it–love your neighbor as yourself.  It’s easy to love people we like.  But loving people we don’t like is another matter.   God’s love is different.  He doesn’t have restrictions on how many times you can be forgiven.   He is eternally patient with me, the one who often fails to listen to Him or do what He says.

Right now, I’m not in Korea or Argentina or Kazakhstan or Iceland or Timbuktu.  I’m in Unnamed City, East Coast, U.S.A.  And I won’t magically love people if I move somewhere else.  Right now, the people I need to show God’s love to come to my office to take tests.  My job is filled with opportunities to love my neighbors–all of them, including the arrogant woman with a hat, the man who gives TMI when asking to go to the bathroom, and the kid who never listens to instructions.

“By this shall all men know ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”–John 13:35

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