In May, I participated in a twelve-day Instagram writer’s challenge. It was both stretching and fun. We were given a different word each day and created posts about those words relating to our writer’s life.
As I contemplated each word, I discovered correlations between writing life and real-life. I’ve expanded on the original posts, and I’d love to read your thoughts on these words as they relate to your life as well.
Some of my earliest memories of my mom involve her curled up on our sofa lost in a book. When she read, it sometimes took WW3 in miniature form to bring her back to the world of three young, quarreling daughters.
She was the first one who taught me to love reading. Even when I had to have eye therapy at five years old, I loved the feel of a book in my hands, the images from the story coming to life in my imagination.
As an adult, I’ve discovered there are many kinds of reading. We read not only the written word, we also read people and life situations.
We create perceptions and perspectives based on how we read circumstances, on how we read people. Maybe because of my own childhood rejection wounds, I became hyper-sensitive to others’ responses to my words and actions.
I learned to cultivate my actions so as not to give away what my true thoughts and feelings were. I learned to distinguish between people who would be safe to interact with on deeper levels, and who it was better to keep at a surface level of relationship.
But, I also became a reactor to others’ words and actions. I expected others to hurt me at some point, and I found myself anticipating that one word or action which would scrape open my heart wounds.
This is a terrible mindset to guide my reading of people, and it skewed my relationships with those in my life.
Over the past number of years, God has done a lot of healing in my heart, and as I’ve entrusted my wounds to Him, He’s renewed my understanding about people.
Here are a few lessons I’ve learned when being a reader of people:
*Be aware of what shapes our perspective. Our past can be an inaccurate guide to help us discern our present. Reading people and situations through a lens of hurt will distort our understanding of others’ words and actions.
*Don’t only read what we can see on the surface of a person. but give grace for what we can’t see. So often, I base my opinions on another person’s actions on how they treat me. I’ve been the one who was too quick to judge based solely on what I saw. When someone is rude, maybe they’ve just received bad news or had a hard day. Using this filter in my interactions helps me return kindness when someone is terse.
*Form perceptions based on grace—Let’s face it. We all have bad days and difficult seasons. These will impact the way we treat others, and how others treat us. We need to look beyond what we see and give grace for what we don’t understand. We’re all walking wounded. We don’t know what has caused another person to act a certain way. Sometimes, the best thing we can do is offer a smile.
*Read people through the lens of God’s love—Jesus loves the worst of sinners. No, we aren’t Him, but He calls us to love because He first loved us. He doesn’t ask us to love without boundaries. All relationships—and especially unhealthy ones—need boundaries. In some situations, we need to ask God to help us see those people through His eyes and pray for them when it’s not safe for us to be in relationship with them.
Being a people-reader requires a lot more interaction on our part. We see and perceive certain things. And our hearts will pick up on other messages, other aspects of a person.
As when we read written words, we should try to read people with an understanding heart.
What about you? What is one tip for responding to difficult people? What helps you treat others as Jesus would?