The recent past weeks have been clouded by some unpleasantness with a fellow church member. Always arrogant and imperious, he's become more so since taking on a position of some responsibility in the congregation. He knows everything and really can't bring himself to even acknowledge that there might be another point of view (albeit a mistaken one, of course) apart from his own. I've thought about Luther's position that has helped me though some other interpersonal difficulties in the past, that of putting the best possible face on our neighbor's failings.
I was thinking today about a book that Honna wanted me to read a few months back. It was about sociopaths. I glanced through it and told her I just didn't want to read it; I didn't want to fill my head with unpleasantness and perhaps start looking for the pathology in people I meet. This morning I had a moment of regret at rejecting the book; if I were able to believe that this man from church has a condition of some sort, a mental illness that he can't help that makes him so unpleasant to be around, I think I could handle it better.
I guess because of what's been going on with this man, I've been supersensitive to other unkindnesses. A couple of routine statements have leaped out in conversations.
Someone I know who is amazingly thoughtful and considerate of others has been saying "You think?" when another person says something that is obvious. I cringed when I heard it directed at someone and thought how hurt I'd be if it had been me.
Another question that causes a visceral reaction is, "What part of [whatever] don't you understand?" This response is such a put-down, leaving the hearer with nothing at all to say. I think if anyone ever said that to me, I'd prolly just walk away, never to return.
Now, of course, I'm wondering what sorts of reflexive unkind things I say and what unkind behaviors I'm exhibiting. I know I'm impatient at having to repeat things, all the while mindful that my own hearing is not as acute as it once was. I guess I wish there were some sort of a magic mirror I could employ for a week or so that would flash a light when I'm mindlessly unkind.
But there isn't. So I just need to slow down a little bit and be more tuned in to my own behavior and language.
And as for the guy at church, I guess the only thing to do is pray for him. He must be terribly insecure and probably is lonely. And that is a sad thing.