Years ago I remember reading or hearing Iyanla Vanzant say we should give thanks for those who get on our last nerve as they have saved us hours of therapy and thousands of dollars in copays. That is not the exact quote, but the point I took from it is that those we find the most difficult to deal with often times have invaluable lessons to teach us.
This month, I am reading Mark I Rosen’s book, Thank You for Being Such a Pain. In it he provides strategies for allowing difficult people to be teachers. He tells a story that reminded me of Vanzant’s advice. He wrote:
"There is a story about the mystical teacher Gurdjieff and one of his disciples. The disciple, who lived in the ashram, was strongly disliked by the other disciples for a variety of reasons. When he left, Gurdjieff actually tracked him down and paid him to return, telling the rest of the disciples that the ostracized man was one of their most important teachers.”
Those people in our lives who do not challenge us or cause us to be uncomfortable in any way have things to teach us. However, it is those who get on our last nerve, who are a pain, who are disliked, who have the potential to be some of the most important teachers in our lives. This is when the New Testament teaching about giving thanks in all situations becomes helpful. As my Bubby used to tell me, when you can see the blessing in a situation, then you know you are going to be okay.
Is this to say I look forward to difficult people coming into my life, not exactly. However, when they do I give thanks, because I know that this is the Ultimate’s way of allowing me to learn something valuable and important in my life. So for the last week or so I have been taking Rosen’s advice. He suggested, "The next time a difficult person comes into your life, it might be helpful to tell yourself something along the lines of '(Sigh) Here comes another one. God, I ask you to guide me. You have sent this person to me for a reason. Help me to know what it is, and help me to cope successfully.' "
May we remember that we can learn from all of humanity and to give thanks for those who are easy to get along with and those who are a pain.