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Today’s Truth

“But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”

Luke 6:27-28

Friend to Friend

I sometimes think the holiday season should come with a warning label that reads, “The Sandpaper People are coming!” Holidays usher in many things – one of which is the opportunity to deal with the difficult people in our lives. The relative that irritated you last Thanksgiving may very well do the same exasperating things this year. The people waiting in line with you will most likely be impatient and grumpy, and the person checking you out will probably be exhausted and running on fumes. Now is the time to get ready to deal with your sandpaper people – the people who rub you the wrong way.

God created us with the capacity for strong emotions. Sandpaper people not only have an uncanny knack for knowing where emotional buttons are located, they honestly think it is their purpose in life to push every single one of them. Our first reaction to the incessant and calculated button pushing of a sandpaper person is usually angry retaliation, a response that neither honors nor pleases God.

God calls us to peaceful resolutions. When it comes to difficult relationships, God does not want or expect us to declare war. We are to control our emotions instead of allowing our emotions to control us. The Apostle Paul writes in Romans 12:18, “As much as is possible, live peaceably with all men.” In other words, we need to set our mind on peace – not winning.

God’s wants us to wage peace in every relationship – including the roughest, most abrasive, anger producing sandpaper people who come our way. A formidable task, since every sandpaper person I have ever known comes complete with a set agenda that targets emotional eruptions and creates constant relationships upheavals.

Have you noticed how sandpaper people seem to love drama and create it everywhere they go? They also love a good fight, live to evoke angry reactions, and are fierce warriors who are determined to win every battle initiated by their downright irritating personalities.

I have learned an important maneuver for dealing with difficult people. Combat is impossible when one of the parties involved has laid down his or her weapons and chosen peace.

As I headed to the grocery store for my dreaded weekly shopping trip, I wrestled with my attitude. You have to understand that I absolutely hate grocery shopping. But on this particular morning, I vowed to choose joy, and turned my focus to the balmy Florida day before me. I had it all under control – until I pulled into the grocery store parking lot.

It seemed like every South Florida resident was in that parking lot frantically searching for a parking space – and they were not happy. After circling several times, I spotted an empty spot right by the entrance. God does answer prayer.

I made a beeline for “my” parking space. Just as I turned to pull in, an older lady boldly stepped into that prized space and, with great ceremony, held up her left hand, signaling me to stop right where I was. With her right hand, this self-imposed traffic director began motioning to a man I assumed was her husband as he circled the parking lot in his very large car.

I suddenly realized that she was saving “my” spot for him. Of all the nerve! What incredible gall!

Parking spaces are a serious matter to me. Evidently, I was not the only one who felt that way. In the midst of my simmering, soon-to-explode anger, this still small voice reminded me that I had a choice to make. I really hated surrendering my anger to God, but the thought of apologizing to that woman for running over her with my car was more than my mind could conceive or my stomach could handle. I quickly decided that if she was willing to risk her life for a grocery store parking space, she deserved to have it.

Unfortunately, the driver behind me did not agree, and whipped her car into the prized space just in front of the man in his large car, barely missing the woman who was saving the space. I watched the scene unfold – or explode. Crude gestures and loud, repulsive words filled the air. Some I understood. Some I had never heard and did not care to define. Threats were exchanged along with promises of retribution.

The whole experience was an ugly reminder that we live in a world filled with angry people who are constantly rubbing each other the wrong way. Sandpaper people. And while it is true that everyone gets angry from time to time, it is just as true that everyone can learn to effectively control and manage his or her anger.

When dealing with a sandpaper person, we must not allow ourselves to become the enemy. As you get ready for Thanksgiving Day, remember to prepare your heart to love the hard-to-love people that come your way.

Let’s Pray

Father, I am so thankful that You love me – rough edges and all. Please help me to love others in the same way.

In Jesus’ Name,

Amen. 

Now it’s Your Turn

Who are the difficult people in your life?

In what way(s) do they irritate you?

What can you do to avoid a difficult situation with your sandpaper people?

Ask God to let you see those difficult people as He sees them – through eyes of love.

More from the Girlfriends

If you are like me, you need a lot of help loving the sandpaper people in your life. That is why I wrote the book, Sandpaper People. It is filled with practical ways to love those difficult people and will help you develop healthier relationships. Check it out in my online store. It is also available on CD and as MP3 download.

And be sure to connect with Mary on Facebook or through email.

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6 Responses to “Are You Ready for the Sandpaper People?”

  1. Farron says:

    This was a great devotional.

  2. Veronica says:

    I so love reading your stories that so relate to a lot of mine. I, too, live in SWFL and I know we only have 2 seasons — Summer and Snowbird. LOL! I know the feeling about the parking spot and sandpaper people and despise grocery shopping, well, shopping in general. I, too, choose joy. I paste a smile on my face, put grace in my heart and try to let it all go when I meet them. Sometimes it works, sometimes I leave the store upset or angry. I then pray the entire way home or vent my anger as it were and calm myself down.

    Thank you for such a beautiful website that we women can go to and help ourselves to be better women of faith. You ladies are the best. Love you and hope God blesses you all.

    Veronica

  3. Mary, that’s hilarious. I have never heard that term but I don’t think they are out just at the holidays, they’re everywhere. I’m used to merry go round at the store, pray for a parking space. And I don’t mind shopping, then I know I’ll get something I like to eat.

  4. Vicki says:

    Oh…this was great! SANDPAPER PEOPLE!!! I certainly will remember this.. strong and powerful!! I usually can be strong with people who rub me the wrong way and let it roll off… but there is one that is not that easy!! I recently had to remind myself….it is not them..I have to be the Stronger one and not point my finger at the SANDPAPER in my life but Thank God for it SPREAD LOVE AND PRAISE HIM in advance what I may encounter!!! I will Smile and remember with a “chuckle” it’s just another sandpaper to thank God for!! Thank you Mary!!

  5. Tina says:

    Shared this devotion to my friends. Quite timely…especially in the environment that we live in. There will always be people who will try to test our patience that we allow ourselves to enter into endless arguments, in our best effort to prove ourselves that we are better and that we have the best intention. Unfortunately, there are also times that we may be the sandpaper person that we hate to see in other people. Good reminder for us to live in peace and not to win or outdo one another. The latter sometimes is already an evidence of our insecurities. May we try our best to please God by loving the unlovable….as God himself loved and continuously love us despite our flaws and all. Have a blessed day ahead!

  6. ST says:

    Oh goodness, I truly need prayers (carts full of them), regarding my reactions to these scenarios! A few months ago a driver cut me off at a four way intersection, I totally overreacted, felt my kids were in danger, and mouthed pretty clearly, “are you crazy?” while facing the driver….you can probably imagine how mortified I was when I realized it was a person we attend church with 🙁 I told myself I wouldn’t react that way ever again…fast forward to a couple of days ago, I pull around a blind corner at a fast food place, going maybe 2mi per hour and immediately spot a huge group of small children running across the lot. Naturally, since I immediately came to a complete stop I thought the only adult with those children was shaking his head in disbelief that the kids didn’t listen and wait for him to cross – wrong, he clearly thought I had done something terribly wrong (reminder I see kids = I stop immediately until they are all inside the car they were running to). After about the tenth dirty look and head shake, I lost my patience and gave him the I see you point along (2 fingers at my eyes, then 2 back to him) with a thumbs up in case he didn’t understand. It was not well received, he walked up to my sons window (I had my 3 school aged children with me) and demanded we roll it down, I did not, he tried to follow us and it ended when I threatened to call the police. My kids were scared, I was scared, it was my fault for not being a peacemaker and I had no way to fix it, I cried and prayed and sincerely hope we never see the person again…ever. Please pray for me to immediately be still and hear God’s peacemaker solutions, not my own loud Italian voice lol.

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