We had an interesting sermon this morning.
Most people would probably consider any sermon at our Church interesting, as our pastor is Adrian Kebbe (aka Harry Houdidn't), but Adrian takes his spiritual duties just as seriously as he does his comedy.
He gave this example: When you're stuck in a traffic jam and you get impatient with the car in front who's holding you up, he may be making you late, but he's not making you impatient. You choose to lose your patience.
How many times a day do things happen to us and our automatic reaction is "It's not my fault!"
It's as if it's a natural human reaction to pass the blame.
But even if we can see the other party has done us wrong, we don't have to fight back and lash out in retaliation but instead, through prayer, can seek the right way to handle the situation. A way that can teach us about ourselves and maybe even heal an otherwise damaged relationship.
There's a chap who has said he doesn't like me, he really doesn't like me, and the reason is that he says I snubbed him at a show we did a few years back. Apparently he was in line, he said "Hello" as I went past and I didn't say "Hello" back to him.
Now just because I don't remember the incident doesn't mean it didn't happen.
I was running around like a mad thing that night, frantically trying to pull things together, and he probably did say hello and I most likely didn't hear him.
But obviously the fact I didn't respond hurt him deeply, and as much as I could dismiss his complaint as "petty", that would achieve nothing more than rubbing salt in the wound.
What Adrian's message made me realise is that this incident was choreographed by God, in order to wake me up to the fact that, no matter how busy I am, I need to be more aware of other people.
In my case I need to work extra hard to overcome both my hyperactive nature, and my socially debilitating Asperger's Syndrome, a combination which sometimes results in me coming across as "aloof", "superior" or "egotistical" to those who don't know me.
They don''t realise that I find social interaction incredibly difficult, so they make their assessment of who I am based on the little they see of me. The Asperger's causes me to avoid speaking to people I don't know very well, and makes it almost impossible for me to look them in the eye while I talk to them. And small talk is not in my vocabulary, but it's up to me to give them them a better impression.
What makes it worse is that the Asperger's means I have absolutely no idea how I come across to others... so ideally, I avoid social situations and stick to the safety the stage.
It's a weird situation that many find impossible to understand. They see me "off stage" at a party and I'm so uncomfortably shy I can't wait to get out of there. They may even get the impression I think I'm too good to be there. But then they see me on stage and the personality difference is like Clark Kent and Superman!
But the bottom line is, I can't blame the Asperger's. I can't blame the other people for not being more tolerant and understanding of my discomfort. I can only affect change in myself, with God's help, and that's what I have to do.
When God asked Adam if he ate the apple, he blamed Eve for giving it to him and God for giving him Eve! But in the end it was his choice, regardless of pressure from Eve, to eat it or not.
He should have accepted responsibility, and when you or I find out that we've made someone feel bad, whether it's justified or not, we need to accept responsibility.
Whether Asperger's, or busyness, or distraction is the cause, we can't allow it to be the excuse and pass the blame back on the person who was offended.
It's a tough way to live, but it's the only way to live well.