(For the uninitiated, “Theology for Grasshoppers” is my attempt to tell my story of faith to my grandkids. I hope I’m around long enough to tell them personally. But just in case I reach the finish line before I get the opportunity, these letters will be the record of what I believe and why I believe it…in words and stories they can understand.)
Boy, it has really been awhile since I last wrote to you guys. So long, we’ve even added a new Farrasprout to the team. Welcome Tobias Allan Farra!
From what I hear, you’re going to be the last of the Farra tribe for a while, Toby. I hope I’m still around when the next wave comes rolling through, but that decision is way above my pay grade. You don’t know anything about pay grades yet, but you will soon enough…
I saw something on TV today, so I wanted to write this to you guys while it was still pretty fresh on my mind.
I wish this wasn’t true, but for the rest of your lives, you’re going to have to learn to deal with people who are mean, rude, thoughtless, arrogant, or just plain hurtful. Most of the time, you won’t be able to do anything to stop them. That’s just the way they’re going to be.
The only thing you will ever have real control over is how you’re going to respond back to them.
Trust me, you’re gonna want to get mad, hold a grudge, put up a wall, talk about them behind their backs, avoid them, or even be “fake nice” to their faces (when you’re really mad enough at them to punch them right in the nose!)
There’s a verse in the Bible that I have held close to my heart for over 50 years and one that has taught me how to be a friend to nearly every person who has ever crossed my path. The words are few, but boy are they powerful:
“Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.” Ephesians 4:26
I’ve always believed I have about 24 hours to deal with my bad feelings for another person. No matter what they’ve said or done. Yup. 24 hours. And once those 24 hours are up, I only have two options:
One…forgive them and consider them a friend. And treat them like one.
Two…go and talk with them about what they said or did and how it made me feel. If they continue to say and do mean things, I have to keep going and talking to them. I might even need to take a trusted friend to join me, if the problem continues.
That’s it. Forgive them or talk with them. Or forgive them AND talk with them. The problem is it’s much easier to talk ABOUT the people we are angry with, than it is to talk WITH them.
It’s not going to be easy. These days, people don’t grow up learning to talk and forgive. It’s crazy, but there are actually people who hold on to anger or bad feelings for others for months, or even years. Sometimes, forever. Don’t settle for being “those” kind of people. Ever.
I know. That’s pretty heady stuff for little sprouts like you, but I promise if you decide to live by what the Bible says in this world (instead of by your own feelings), where careless words and thoughtless actions are everywhere, people will notice there is something really different about you. And your lives will make a difference.
Use your 24 hours wisely, Grasshoppers.