Preaching to Myself
June 26, 2019
by Jennifer Wade, DDS
Like most of my writings, much of what I have to say is me preaching to myself. Recently I have been struck by several encounters with patients who were either very irritated or irritating. Either way, what should our response be? When someone is being demanding or has unrealistic requests and is upset when we cannot fulfill them? Or maybe they are just plain rude? What do we do?
I confess that more often than not I put on a face of politeness and do what I can to get what they need done quickly to get them on their way. But sometimes, when I actually listen to the Holy Spirit prompting me, I try to listen and empathize with them. For instance, I had a patient last week, and I don’t remember exactly why she was getting under my skin, but she was. I felt the Lord tell me to ask her if she’d like prayer and just listen to her for a minute. When I did I learned she had lost three loved ones in the last year, lost her job and was just trying to get by so she could stay in her home and not get kicked out. I realized she was not trying to be difficult but just needed help and was trying to get one of the many things fixed in her life that wasn’t working right. She had turned to us for help with a problem in her mouth so she could have one less problem to face. She’d also come to a clinic seeking compassion from us, and if I hadn’t listened to the Lord I would have given her a fake version of caring that is shallow and callous.
This isn’t the only time the Lord has humbled me with my attitude and I know it won’t be the last. These encounters always remind me of the passage from Matthew 7:4-5: “How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (NIV 1984). When I get frustrated with someone who is being frustrating, I need to stop and see how I am treating that person. Have I shown true compassion or just faked it? Have I taken the time to hear why they are really upset, or am I just trying to accommodate them in order to get them out of the door?
I pray God helps me and anyone else who struggles with this to clean out our eyes and help us see people as He does, with great love.