They are the worst sometimes.
They let us down. They break our hearts. Most of all, they pretty much just get on our nerves.
I don’t know about you, but I’m the kind of guy that sometimes wants to just crawl in a hole and get away from everyone. Sometimes all I want is a little peace and quiet away from everyone who’s making me mad.
Lately though I’ve found a new trick for how to heal my relationships with people. It’s a simple sentence I read in a book I keep going back to called The Road To Daybreak by Henri Nouwen.
Nouwen says that when people let us down, make us angry, or just frustrate us in general we should remember these four words:
“They are not Jesus.”
Nouwen realized the general reason why people let us down is we expect them to fill a role only Jesus can.
It’s true. When I get frustrated with someone it’s usually because I’m expecting them to be a perfect friend.
When we hold the people in our lives up to perfect standards, we should not be surprised when they let us down. If we think the people in our lives, even the ones we hold closest, to always be there for us we will eventually be let down.
I’m not trying to be negative or cynical. No human being can bear the weight of perfection.
Instead I’m saying we should find grace in our hearts for the people we love by remembering four simple words.
When I remind myself (through gritted teeth) “They are not Jesus”, I find comfort. I remember the people around me are as imperfect as I am. I remember that only Jesus can perfectly provide for me.
Remembering these four words makes forgiveness and understanding come naturally. The anger and frustration in my heart subsides. After all, whatever I’m mad about is something the other person really can’t be blamed for.
Instead of looking to others to give us the encouragement, attention, adoration, and affirmation our hearts desire we should shift our focus above.
We should let our guards down. We should love and trust the people in our lives. But we should carry around abundant amounts of grace in our back pockets for the moments when they are not Jesus.
Once you stop expecting someone to be who only Jesus can be, you will be able to see and love them for who they really are.