The Lord's servants must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone. They must be patient with difficult people.
2 Timothy 2:24
Friend to Friend
All relationships require patience. But the more difficult the relationship, the more patience is needed. As a result, we often find ourselves seated in one of God’s waiting rooms, waiting for that exasperating person to become encouraging, hoping that the difficult relationship with which we struggle will become easier. I hate to wait, for anything or anyone, which is the very reason I am in the waiting room to start with and the purpose behind the presence of sandpaper people in my life. They teach us to wait.
It is in those waiting rooms that the condition of the heart is exposed. Who and what we really are emerge from the unique pressure only a difficult relationship can bring.
When we are patient and willing to wait on God, we are inviting Him to work.
While we wait, He prepares us for that difficult relationship and fashions the difficult relationship to accomplish His plan in us.
Difficult people barge into our lives with God’s permission and by His design, invading forbidden territory and challenging closely guarded rules of our own making. When we become impatient, trying to run ahead of His work or escape those sandpaper people, we miss some of the blessings difficult relationships offer. It is through faith and patience that we obtain God’s promises.
- The Children of Israel waited 40 years to be delivered.
- Jesus waited 30 years to minister.
- Jeremiah waited 35 years for people to respond to his teaching.
- Abraham waited 70 years for a son.
Patience is trust – waiting! God is the source of patience and dispenses it through His word, our circumstances and those “angels unaware” we call sandpaper people
His name was Sam. I fell in love with him the first time I saw him. I was standing at the door of my classroom, anxiously waiting to greet the thirty students who had been assigned to me for nine whole months of instruction. Though Sam was smaller than the other children, he walked with the earned confidence of one who has seen more than he should have seen at such a young age. What he lacked in size, he more than made up for in personality and attitude. He was a blatant flirt, and I was a goner as soon as he gazed up at me with strikingly blue eyes that tripped my heart while flashing two cavernous dimples captured it.
I will never forget the pain in his words. “My name is Sam. I am dumb and stupid, and I can’t do anything right. I get mad really easy and like to break things. I just thought you ought to know.” It only took a few minutes for Sam to begin what I suspected was his usual attempt to prove his words true as he swept through the quickly filling classroom, destruction in his hands. Papers were ripped and tossed aside. Children shrank away from his now scowling face, fear in their eyes. When the little girl laughed, Sam thought she was laughing at him and knocked her to the floor. I had seen enough. Taking him by the arm, I marched him out of the room and down the hall. He was not surprised or particularly concerned. It was all very familiar; but what came next wasn’t.
Looking for a place to sit, I stopped in front of a bench and, much to my own surprise, instinctively pulled this precious little man into my arms and held onto him for dear life. “Sam, it is wrong to tell a lie,” I whispered. Stunned, he drew back to ask, “What do you mean? I didn’t tell no lie.” Cupping his freckled face in my hands, I whispered, “Yes, you did. You said you were dumb and stupid and couldn’t do anything right. That is a lie. I don’t know who told you that and I don’t care. It’s not true – is it, Sam?” His eyes filled with tears – and a tiny ray of hope appeared in them. It was enough. Slowly, Sam shook his head, a watery smile creeping across his now softening face. “Nope. I reckon it ain’t if you say so.” I smiled back, “Well, I say so. Now why don’t you be my assistant today and help me pass out papers.” Together, we walked back to the classroom and to a new beginning for one little sandpaper person.
That year I taught Sam and he taught me. I am not certain who learned the most but this I do know – the more we love, the more patience we will have; and the more patience we have, the more we will love.
Father, I want to know You and find Your plan for my life. I choose to see myself through Your eyes of love, forgiveness and grace. I want to be the woman You created me to be. Thank You for loving me. Help me to walk each day in the knowledge that I am Your child.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
Read Psalm 139 each day for one month. Record the new truths that you learn, the changes in your perspective and any fresh insights in your journal.
More from the Girlfriends
Sometimes sandpaper people delight in pushing our emotional buttons – and that leads to frustration and anger. Need help managing your anger? Check out my new Bible Study, You Make Me So Angry.