There’s a reason we pray, “forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” God really expects us to get along with people, to forgive and be forgiven. But sometimes that can seem like the most difficult thing ever. How can we really live well with others? Here are a few tips to try:
- It’s so much easier to see other people’s failings and obnoxious habits than our own. But try this experiment: list the ways in which others might find you difficult. If you’re really brave, ask people around you what’s annoying about you. Now check out that list and remember another scripture passage: “let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” Remind yourself of your list the next time you’re impatient with someone else.
- Focus your attention and really listen to the other person. A lot of times, we listen only so there can be a break in the conversation that we can fill. Let your thoughts go and see what their thoughts are. Even if you end up disagreeing, you’ve given them the respect of hearing them out. And this generally means that in turn they will accord you the same courtesy.
- Always leave the door open. If you really feel that you cannot get along with someone, don’t burn bridges, don’t reject them out of hand. The door should always be left open for future reconciliation.
Further reading/meditation: Take a look at Amish Grace, the book documenting a local Amish community’s response when a shooter killed a number of girls in their schoolroom. The community’s forgiveness—including that of the victims’ parents—was immediate and complete. How could they do that? We could learn something from their response.