Use Negative Experiences for the Good of Others

     Michael has come a little early to church and is sitting alone. It seems he is listening to the worship team as they warmup. I start to pass by on my way to the foyer to greet people as they arrive for the service but stop. Instead, I sit next to him and begin a conversation. He is very receptive.

He’s not quite 13 and his family doesn’t attend church, but he comes faithfully. Would I be comfortable walking into church by myself at age 12? Most adults don’t even like to come alone, especially if they have trouble interacting with people. It can be difficult to break into conversations when people are linked by their history with one another.

Once when I was new to a church, I tried to approach small groups after the service but most had no room for me. Knowing how uncomfortable it is to be on the outside, I look for those who might need to know they are welcome and wanted.

     Our negative experiences can have a positive effect on our behavior. They help us to walk out the scriptures. This has been true for me while learning to walk out Luke 6:31–“And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.”  

     When I first read this passage of scripture, I really didn’t know how to implement it. I thought perhaps this might apply to picking up the lunch check at a restaurant, or allowing someone to easily merge onto the freeway and change lanes, or not talking during a movie at a public theater. These were all behaviors I appreciated.

     Yet a deeper, more profound meaning began to emerge as I examined the scars I have, which are evidence I live in a fallen world. The scars are a result of being wounded.

     For example, when I was about 19 years old, I worked at a summer resort as a busgirl in the restaurant. For some reason, I am not sure why, my boss did not like me. He was critical of my work and nothing I did to improve pleased him. He was an authority figure, and instead of training, helping, and advising he was demeaning and belittling. I dreaded work and cried in private. However, since I didn’t have much of a resume, I was afraid to quit not knowing if I could find other employment. I needed to save money for college.

     This experience has given me a better understanding of how to treat others. Especially if I am in a position of authority. Although it happened years ago, it left a scar as a reminder.

     Scars can develop when we are wounded. They can happen anytime occurring when we are a child, a teen, a young adult and into our senior years. Also, they can be left by the hand of anyone. Sometimes we know and love the person who wounds, while at other times it is a passing interaction, someone we barely know.

     Has anyone ever had a difficult conversation with a physician who was condescending? What about a teacher who made you feel stupid rather than looking for ways to help you understand the curriculum being taught?

Scars can be left by both words and actions.

Words that are demeaning, sarcastic, critical, or unkind might scar. They are often a result of not being well thought out. Sometimes it is best to remain silent, until we know how to deliver a message in a way that builds up rather than tears down.

Of course, we are told actions “speak” louder than words. We can say we care about someone but unless we show it as well, our comments seem disingenuous.

I encourage you to think about your scars. Remember how you obtained them. Then use these experiences to guide your interactions with others. This is practicing “do to others as you wish them to do to you.”

©2023 Susan Cort Johnson *All Rights Reserved

Image from Pixabay

Let’s Talk:

1-What negative experience in your past has helped you treat others better?

2-Please share an example in the comment section of how you or another Christian has put Luke 6:31 into practice.

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