Nothing that we despise in other men (women) is inherently absent from ourselves. We must learn to regard people less in the light of what they do or don’t do, and more in light of what they suffer. Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Meditation: When I experience and don’t like certain traits and behaviors in others, it is easy to start judging them. Spiritually, the first step might be to pause and become aware by asking myself: “That I am reacting so strongly to this or that behavior in the other, what does this have to do with me?” Sometimes I am unaware, but I might wrestle with something in myself that parallels exactly what I dislike in the other, and that I wish I did not have. Humility means that I admit why I react harshly and critically namely based on unfinished business within myself. The second spiritual step is to look at the other person for what they have been through or what they have suffered so that they have become or act a certain way. When I ask open and compassionate questions, I will learn more about the person whose behavior or traits I despise. I might find surprising stories of human suffering, which will likely increase my compassion for the other. And interestingly this experience of listening often increases my self-compassion as well, as I am sometimes blind to how my own suffering has made me impatient and harsh with myself and with others. As a beloved and chosen one by God, I am invited to grow spiritually by clothing myself with new traits and new behaviors like compassion, kindness, gentleness and patience. Those “new clothes” will first heal me, and I will then also become able to extend healing behavior and words to others.

Prayer: God, take away my impatience, my harshness, my judgmental tone and voice. Take my assumptions away about why others are or act a certain way. Help me ask more open ended and gentle questions. Help me to become more compassionate, more patient, more open to the flawed humanity in others and in myself. Your love sees our suffering and our broken hearts behind the ways we are and act. Your Spirit of compassion is gentle, humble and kind. Clothe us with Your Spirit as we shiver from the nakedness of our harsh judgements. Your example and Your love warms our very being. Amen

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Colossians 3:12

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