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Eric's Sunday Service; How To Treat An Obnoxious Person And The Like
Diamond Back Rattler - Talk about obnoxious.
Some folks we love are just plain obnoxious.
In the late ‘70s my then fiancé and I travelled about 300 miles to obtain a dog. He was a Chow Chow, cream and goldish colored with a purple tongue and a mane. He looked much like a miniature lion. His name was formally Kublai Kahn of Xanadu. He had a marvelous pedigree. He was advertised as obnoxious. And though he was ostensibly worth thousands he was given away to us for free. This due to his obnoxious character. Strange he was, once he dove through a window in our home got all cut up but just wanted to hang out on our front porch and so there he was when we got home. A couple of times chewed through wood things like doors. Man o man I loved that dog and we had him for about 16 years through good and bad. He was obnoxious but we loved him. He was extremely loyal and great through 3 small children.
Some folks are just obnoxious and go through people like Kahn did fences. Just chewed them up and spit them out as though it was nothing. I think we can love such people as I love Kahn. But how? Jesus said something to the effect that loving good folk is of no great gain, loving enemies is the really good stuff. And there is a wonderful proven effective technique of praying for one’s enemies to make things better. The story of the good guy saving the bad guy because it was the right thing to do never gets old. In my life nothing has been as instantly rewarding as helping two resolve a dispute between them. Fighters are all entertaining but peace makers are the ones we ultimately want to hang out with after gaining some wisdom.
In a real sense life would be less exciting without obnoxious people.
Beautiful to me
Maybe we should walk a mile in their shoes
Are we on solid ground?
For a period of my life I was self-destructive in many ways. Cut me some slack, a lot of people go through this phase of life. Come to think of it, I was obnoxious during that period. It was like a snowball rolling downhill headed for Hell effect, the more I was obnoxious the more I hated myself. The more I hated myself the more obnoxious I became. But there were areas where this problem did not exist. For some reason I was still great with children. For some reason I was still an adequate provider. (I had a job that somewhat rewarded the obnoxious) Seemingly my wife still loved me. When it was clearly time to get better through some work and hard reflection I started a journey. . The ultimate cure for such a mental/emotional/spiritual malady was learning to love myself with warts and all.
So if we look real hard at the obnoxious we will find a few things: They will have some redeeming qualities; They will not like themselves; They will still have some capacity for love. There is a phrase that seems to be a truism. “We will love you until you can learn to love yourself”. There is just something about being loved that begets love. My children adore the funny short poem that goes like this, “beans beans the magical fruit the more you eat the more you toot. So in order to capitalize on that I taught them, “love love the magical thing the more you give the more you bring”. The notion is true.
We can in fact love the person with a serious problem. We are such a funny lot, we fall all over ourselves getting to support and love someone who has had a heart attack. But when they are really sick at heart we shun and avoid them. The scar that we can see brings sympathy and compassion. The scar that is invisible brings contempt.
Here is an interesting type of obnoxious. Religious grandiosity or hyper religiosity linked to bipolar and psychosis disorders. It is just what it sounds like. Make no mistake faith can have a great therapeutic influence on patients. But there are so many delusional cases that it makes it on to the diagnosis charts. Now a medical provider has to be thoughtful and vigilante here. The religiosity can be helpful or very harmful. But how about us lay people? People that are just plain obnoxious in pounding their religious “beliefs” at you are either very touched by a spirit or are basically delusional. I am fairly learned in such matters. And for sure sometimes I cannot tell the difference.
Here is the point: It really does not matter on how we must treat them. Both deserve our love, or maybe they don’t and we are just required by what is right to show them love anyway. Now we must temper that by not enabling and not letting us drag ourselves down. It would seem that looking into this area of inquiry can help us to properly treat the less drastic occurrences of obnoxious. Sometimes looking at the extreme helps us deal with the mundane.
Take a good look at yourself
Faith of a Mustard seed
Wisdom to know the difference!
OK, maybe we don’t care for the obvious method of dealing with the obnoxious. Sometimes doing the right thing just stinks. And sometimes it is just plain hard to know what the right thing to do is. I just love this short version of the Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr (1892–1971):
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.
That kind of says it all about dealing with the obnoxious in ourselves and in others. I long ago added a little something, something: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, in love,
Courage to change the things I can, in love,
And wisdom to know the difference, in love.
So for me when I am of my right mind and spirit dealing with the obnoxious requires that I do it in love. A whole lot easier said than done. That old favorite teacher of mine kind of directly tells me to practice something. It goes like this; If the dude slaps your cheek go ahead and give him the other cheek to slap, and then do this 7 times 70 times. Right!!! You do it, I am not up for it. And while you are at it, I am going to steal your jacket and then you must give me your shirt.
Sorry but us common folk just cannot do that. But we can keep our eye on the prize. Again we can look at the extreme and take away something for the mundane.
You know I can rarely give a sermon without talking about another great teacher – my six year old. Were you aware that a six year old can ask 200 how and why questions a minute? In the ordinary it would seem impossible but six year olds can do miracles. And I just got to tell you that that many questions is obnoxious and nobody but a Saint can deal with them all with love. However with the power of love which is also miraculous, a normal parent can satisfy the curiosity of a six year old. I reckon we can do it with those obnoxious sales people that call or knock on our door during family dinner time. Perhaps we cannot do it perfectly but at least trying will allow us to move on without carrying the negative onward.