I walk around this house all day picking things up. You would think that my house would eventually get clean because of this, but the truth is there’s always “stuff” where it’s not supposed to be no matter how many times I clean. Lately, the things out of place that I find most annoying are broken toys, particularly crayons. My three-year-old is a little creature of habit and lately he has been cultivating a habit of breaking crayons for the mere pleasure of hearing them snap. Also, there is a lovely feeling of power that fills him when something solid cracks between his herculean fingers. Behold the mighty Caleb who has the ability to snap crayons in a single blow! I guarantee you, he is thinking along these lines.
The most irritating thing about broken crayons is that all their potential for coloring is still intact. They are still as color worthy as before, but now, no one will touch them because they present a slightly more complicated grip, pressure on paper, they aren’t as pretty etc… Grr! Even Caleb, the great breaker of the crayons himself, no longer has any use for them once they are broken, unless it’s to peel the paper off and leave IT scattered around with the crayons. Paper ripping is just an added bonus to ruining crayons.
There always seems to be someone in my life who is very difficult to deal with. I used to think that they were placed especially in my path because I had some sort of knack for working with hardship cases, and now I’ve come to the conclusion that, as I am not the least bit adept at dealing with these people, they merely come into my life so much because there are too many of them to avoid. Grown up people, looking for the rush that comes with the power to hurt something that appears solid, have snapped them in half with their words, or actions, or an artful combination of the two. Unfortunately, broken crayons and people are everywhere.
Lately there has been a particularly hard individual. Don’t worry, if you’re reading this blog and you’ve recently made my acquaintance, it’s not you. If I thought there was a chance that the person in question read my blog, I wouldn’t mention them at all. Now that we’ve got that settled, here we go. This person is more difficult because unlike most of the broken people in my life, I have discovered that I don’t like her. It’s a weird feeling for me. I usually like everyone. Truly, even people that are super broken, unlovely, hard to deal with, I’m all over it. But not with her. So here are things I’ve learned about dealing with difficult people …
1. Every person is important because they exist.
People don’t earn importance because of the things that they do. People are important because they are flesh and blood. They are living here on this planet, so they’re just as valuable as I am. They possess just as much potential for coloring this world with their existence, and there isn’t any option about throwing them away just because they are broken in a couple of places and have some of their paper ripped off. SOMEONE somewhere will have to deal with them.
2. I don’t like everyone and that is just life. Unfriending them on Facebook just makes me immature.
Again, a very hard concept for me. I can usually find something about a person that I just love and that makes me connect with them all the better and like them even more. Enjoying people’s peopleness is usually easy for me. Here is the shocker of the day. I almost unfriended this person on Facebook. I know, right? The ultimate disgrace! Being “unfriended” on a social network. That’ll teach HER to be hard to deal with! I didn’t actually do that, I just wanted to. But then I realized that, I am actually a grown-up so I should act like it, and all people deserve some dignity … even in the Facebookosphere.
3. Everyone is broken, just in different places.
There are people out there who find me a difficult person to deal with. Somewhere, someone might even be writing a blog post about me and how annoying I am. It’s true. There are no perfect crayons in the box of the world. We are broken because the world is broken. Because people say the wrong things at the wrong time. Because humanity has fallen. That’s all. It’s just us here. Some of us have just been melted, pressed back into place, and had paper rewrapped around the weak spots, but some people have no one to do that for them. So their brokenness is just out there, for everyone to see. It isn’t fair, but it is reality. I have mostly surrounded myself with people who are willing to put up with my breaks and bulges where I got fixed. They know that the paper isn’t hiding my other faults very well, but they don’t care, because they love me. Everyone needs people who pretend the paper is doing its job. We should be those people for the other broken people.
4. Jesus liked the broken crayons best.
I imagine that if Jesus came into my house and sat down to color with Caleb, He would not reach for the newest box of crayons. He would probably use the smaller pieces, the blunt edges, the ruined parts to make his work of art. When I complained to Jesus about the person I almost unfriended on Facebook, He said as much to me (not out loud). He reminded me of Mary Magdalene, one of His favorite followers, who was a prostitute before she met Him. And of Zaccheus and Peter and … of myself. All of us hopeless cases. He had the time to mess with us. He used our broken parts to make His story more beautiful and more interesting. How could we not take the time for these others?
5. People stuff does not fit nicely into a crayon box.
There are no really perfect categories for humanity. We’ve discussed this before. Shoving people into little boxes just doesn’t seem to work out. We have no idea of the depth of most people. I can’t remember who said it, but someone famous who’s name you would surely be impressed with said once that “The most complex character in fiction is not remotely as complicated as the simplest person in real life.” Something like that was said by someone famous once. I promise. You get the idea, of course. People don’t tell us why they are the way they are. Most of the time, they don’t even know it themselves. They don’t apologize for being hard to deal with, for lying horizontal, when you need them to stick up straight so you can fit more things into the box. People just are what they are.
6. The Earth revolves around the sun … not around me.
Obvious. I know that. In my head I know it. But still in my selfish heart there is the thought that this life is a movie with me as the main character. Everyone that comes in and out of the scenes does so to further my story. Wrong. People who decide that life is all in the pursuit of their own happiness are delusional. I’ve seen many quotes swirling around on Facebook and Twitter: memes to the effect of, “if someone is in your life that isn’t contributing to your happiness, walk away from them, Life is too short for that”. Some are a bit more subtle in their selfishness, “A person who hurts you gives up their right to be in your life”… blah blah blah. It all comes to the same thing. Broken people sometimes look for others to break because they think it will make them look less broken. So they hurt people. They hurt you, or me. But life is not just about us. Sometimes people-breakers have to have someone stick with them. Someone they have hurt even. I have had many people stick with me in the past even after I have stabbed them in the back, said the wrong thing to them … hurt their feelings. I’m glad their only source of humanity wasn’t wrapped up in the wisdom of Facebook memes. If any of you friends are reading this post, thanks for dealing with this difficult person. I love you.
So maybe all of this doesn’t help when dealing with the crayon pieces scattered throughout your life, but it helps me. A little more perspective is always a plus for a brain like mine. I tend to think that everyone’s life experience is similar to mine, and therefore, they should all behave exactly as I do. However, the ramifications of there being 6 billion Juliens running around in this world are so catastrophic, I just don’t let my mind settle there.
P.S. Just to clarify, I am in no way recommending that someone stay in an abusive relationship. I am talking merely about hurt feelings here, and figuring out people at large. If someone hits you, or is cruel to you … get away from them immediately. Someone else can help them with their brokenness. That doesn’t need to be you.