"The appropriate word you left unsaid: the joke you didn't tell; the cheerful smile for those who bother you; that silence when you're unjustly accused; your kind conversation with people you find boring and tactless; the daily effort to overlook one irritating detail or another in those who live with you...this, with perseverance, is indeed solid interior mortification."- St. Josemaria Escriva from The Way (173)
Life is difficult, very difficult. Living and getting along with people even more difficult. So what is it about us humans that makes it so difficult to live and get along with each other? It's simple. Human beings although inherently great are imperfect. It doesn't make a difference what religion one believes in or what country one is from, all sane humans acknowledge this fundamental fact. "To err is human..." Benjamin Franklin once said.
I have been thinking much about this reality especially in my workplace where I literally deal with hundreds of people on a given day not to mention the oftentimes stressful interactions with my coworkers. Many times I feel so frustrated with humans that I long to get away from it all and to retreat into some alpine wilderness armed with nothing but a bible, rosary, and a blank notebook with a good pen. There are so many moments where I prefer the company of a solitary gold fish or the incessant barking of a chihuahua to the company of people. Even though my spirit craves this isolation I know that this is not of God. Instead God demands us to interact, not to retreat but to actively engage humanity in all of its broken glory. So how does one accomplish this while remaining sane?
A couple a days ago I came home furious. One of my coworkers was driving me crazy. No matter how hard I tried she always found fault in everything that I did. She was negative and she seemed to enjoy taking her anger out on me. After withstanding her verbal jabs throughout the day I had had enough. I wanted revenge. I wanted to get back at her. I wanted to put her in her place. I wanted to show her who was the boss. I promised to myself that the next time I would see her, I would make her feel my wrath.
After calming down and coming to my senses I realized that my reaction although understandable was not consistent with a disciple of Christ. Instead of lashing back at her I needed to be better than that. I needed to rise to the occasion and become a Christ to her and to my other coworkers. The stakes were very high. The salvation of souls were at stake.
After praying I stumbled upon these words from St. Josemaria Escriva. After reflecting on them it all began to make sense. The Lord was placing me in this environment to share his light to my coworkers through my personal mortification. In an indirect way the Lord was telling me that I was man enough to deal with the verbal abuse of my coworker. I could be kind, I could be a Christ if only I trusted in him more. Easier said then done when you're dealing with such a flawed human like myself.
At core I believe the reason why we hate the imperfections of others so much is that a part of ourselves does not want to acknowledge our own imperfections. A part of us wants to still believe that we are perfect, but when we fall short, we take it out on others. I like to call it the mirror effect. Hating ourselves through the imperfect reflections of others.
It is important to state that I am in no way saying that one should put up with routine abuse. Abuse in all of its forms should be dealt with in an appropriate manner. Instead what I am saying is that we can all become mini Christs changing the world, one unpleasant human interaction at a time.