“Hey John, have a good weekend!” My father waved at the man who was locking his office, two doors down the hall from my father’s office.
“You too, George!” came the affable reply.
I was home from college during my summer break and was working in my father’s dental office. As we were leaving, I was shocked to hear him speak in such a friendly tone to John, the dentist, down the hall. I waited until we got into the car and in the privacy of the moment, asked my father, “Dad! I thought you couldn’t stand that dentist?”
My father thoughtfully nodded and smiled. “I know.” My father paused for a few seconds, carefully choosing his words. “I was wrong.”
I was confused. “What do you mean?”
My father continued. “For years I thought he was angry with me. I didn’t know why. He was very successful so I thought maybe he was jealous or upset that I started a dental practice a few years after he began, right next door to him. A few months ago, I had enough and walked next door and confronted him. When he came to his front office, I asked him, ‘Are you upset with me?’ “
“What did he say?”
“He was shocked. He looked at me for a few seconds then said, ‘No! I thought you were upset with me!’ He then invited me into his office and we spoke for a few minutes. We learned that both of us had allowed a misunderstanding by a mutual third party to poison our relationship.” My father was now smiling. “We get together every Thursday morning for breakfast.”
I was pleased that my father had reconciled with his neighbor. A short time later, I experienced a similar scenario. In college, I had a classmate with whom I shared several classes. For unknown reasons, I thought he didn’t like me. It came to a head one afternoon when he and I both found ourselves alone in the small department library, for which we shared a class. We shared an uncomfortable and perfunctory “hello” and then proceeded to busy ourselves with our respective research projects. It was icy and definitely uncomfortable and I quickly attempted to complete my research so that I could make a hasty exit. Before I could, he unexpectedly confronted me. “Are you upset with me?”
I was flabbergasted. “What?”
“Are you upset with me?” He repeated.
I didn’t know if this was a trick or he was setting me up but I managed to blurt out, “No. I thought you were upset with me?”
“I’m not. I just don’t understand why you always treat me like you don’t like me.”
I nodded in agreement. “I feel the same way.”
We looked at each other and realized how puerile our actions had been. After an hour of discussion, we understood the misunderstanding that led to our estrangement and we shook hands, smiled, and remained good friends for the rest of our college years. Like father, like son, I suppose, but I suspect this scenario is more commonly played out than most people would care to admit.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;
1 Corinthians 13:4-5 (ESV)
If I were to spend the rest of my life studying 1 Corinthians 13, living out the meaning of truly loving others, it would be a very fulfilling life. There are so many beautiful descriptions of love in action. There are also important admonitions and one that is at the heart of these two experiences is love is not irritable or resentful. In other words, love does not jump to conclusions about the intentions and heart of another. I am frequently guilty of this sin and these two incidents are painful reminders of how easy it is to slip into this mindset.
Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.