Lately I've been thrown into contact with a person who knows everything.
Anyone around them can say something and this person's opinion is delivered like the word of God: quick, definitive and absolute.
With no conversation. And no take backs.
Now, there is nothing wrong with having an opinion and Heaven knows I have plenty of my own.
However, what makes this interesting is that each opinion is delivered also as a judgment of anyone who is not of a similar mind. There is no give and take, no "oh, why do you think that?" This may be about important matters of faith and family or it may be about something as inconsequential as what sort of cell phone to buy.
Either way, judgement is rendered.
Needless to say, any variation is not looked upon with favor. This is daunting, tiring, and can be quite infuriating. Not to mention being a conversation stopper. Especially to someone like me who is used to exchanging ideas rather than receiving verdicts upon my person based on very little evidence.
However, it is also valuable.
It reminds me that my own reactions reveal more about me than about this person. For example, Tom just lets it roll off his back, saying that he knows what this person is like and most of it is due to extreme youth and lack of life experience.
True enough. I feel that if this person knew how they appeared to others when in this mode, they would be taken aback. So I'm also a bit sorry for them. Because I've been there. I was the hard edged, sarcastic, opinionated person that God has been working on for a long time to soften. Tom says that I wasn't as similar as I think, but I recognize that quality and am somewhat mortified to think how I appeared to others long ago. And, shamefully, occasionally may still appear these days.
I'm also thankful that God's been so faithful in continually softening those blunt edges.
Thinking all this over, St. Therese of Lisieux came to mind. In Story of a Soul** Therese recounts her determination to love even the most annoying person in her convent. Why? Because the artist loves nothing better than to have his art praised and Jesus is the artist who made that annoying woman's soul.
A sobering thought.
I don't know why Therese's experience came to mind but I'm grateful it did. It reminded me to ask Jesus to show me what He loves in this soul He created specifically for this time and place. Who He loves just as much as He loves me.
That prayer is one I ask St. Therese to join since she knows my struggle so well. Whether I receive any further insight remains to be seen. But I actually have received all I need. What I know is that my struggle, my prayer, and my intentions are enough. God will use them as He sees fit for my good and for that of the person. I must just keep on keepin' on.
Lord, hear my prayer. St. Therese pray with me.
* A Knight's Tale
** My review and comments here