I’ve been very irritable this week. Things people have said have rubbed me the wrong way, I’ve been impatient for the smallest of things, and sometimes I just wanted to partake in Primal Scream Therapy. I’ve been nice to folks anyway, it’s not their issue, it’s mine, why take it out on them, but I’m not sure why I’ve been irritable. Lack of sleep probably contributed, stress at work, as I’ve been really busy, writing 1 – 2 papers per week and reading a book a week for my classes hasn’t helped. I couldn’t put my finger on it though.
Then I had this thought – when I become a minister, I will have to be nice to people the rest of my life. WHAT a tall order! When people irritate me, or say stupid things, or are rude, or nasty, I’ll still have to be nice to them because I’m a minister and that’s what ministers do. That was initially a depressing thought. I won’t be able to be myself…. Translation – I won’t be able to show my anger, or my sarcasm or my judgmentalism or my holier than thou attitude… WAIT! Aren’t ministers holier than thou? Isn’t that the whole point to being a minister? We get to be holier than thou right?
Wrong. No one gets to be holier than thou. No matter how much I’d like to use my station as a minister, I’m not going to get to do that. No special tables at dinner, no waiving of parking tickets. Tee hee. Like I’d get to do that anyway, I’m not Charlie Sheen you know. I don’t even live in LA anymore. But it does raise some important points. Can I truly be myself, be human, and still serve people and not become outwardly angry?
That’s what Gandhi did. I’ve been reading a lot about Gandhi in a class I have and yes, he was human, but he did a lot of amazing things. And the one precept I gleaned from his writings was that he was one human being and if he could do it, anyone could. He had his faults, and still he did the best he could. I was actually surprised to discover that there were citizens in India who did not think highly of him. To me he approached sainthood, but to others, not so much. So I think to myself when anger arises, what would Gandhi do? He truly was the epitome of non-violence. In all the writings, in all the accounts of his life I’ve read or watched, he never raised his voice in anger. He never degraded another human being with words or actions no matter what the cause. I aspire to that. My first instinct when some ridiculous fool says something completely unfounded or literally stupid on TV or in the media, is to strike back by yelling. I was raised in a household of yelling. So even my general manner of speaking seems louder than others. I’ve actually worked on that, believe it or not, and I’m not as loud as I used to be. But I am sure I’m the person on the other end of the phone many times, where the listener is holding the phone away from their ear and can still clearly hear me…. 🙂 Please know that it’s not intentional, but it is a learned behavior that is quite ingrained. So my first order of business is to learn to be a quieter human being. Not so quiet as to not be heard, but quiet enough to have my point heard.
The second order of business is to never become impatient. Never say never I know, but I can have that as my goal. Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in prison and never gave up on his cause to end apartheid. 27 years seems like forever to me, so one day at a time I will work to be patient. I hear some of the rantings of Lindbaugh or Beck and my patience wears thin. So hence I begin to exercise my patience muscles.
I’m sure there will be trying times in the future as a minister where I will be tested. I will be tempted to strike back with a caustic remark, or attempt to put someone in their place. I will remember I am a minister; that’s not what I’m here to do.