"What's wrong?" my husband asked me.
"This product is not at all like it was advertised to be!" I exclaimed in frustration. "It looked and sounded so good on television, but it's cheaply made, and it didn't even come with instructions. Furthermore, when I read the tiny print of the one-year warranty, I discovered that almost no problem is covered."
We've all had the experience of being disappointed with an advertised product. Whether we purchase a car, a computer, or a household cleaner, we expect the product to live up to the manufacturer's claims (or at least we hope it will).
A number of years ago, my husband and I owned a Gremlin. That car definitely matched its name. I've lost track of how many starters, carburetors, manifolds and windshield wiper arms we replaced. We had to replace the door hinges because the doors were too heavy for them. Parts stopped working at the worst possible times. However, as soon as we brought the car to the mechanic, the parts would temporarily work again, so he couldn't diagnose what was wrong with them.
Satisfied consumers tell their friends about a good product. Disillusioned consumers not only tell their friends not to buy a bad product, but they also complain to the company, the media, and anyone else who will listen. You can find countless horror stories on the Internet.
The same reality applies to human relationships. Treat someone harshly, unkindly, or impatiently, and others will soon hear about it. The fall-out may taint existing relationships, and new friendships may be lost. If others know that we are Christians, then they may decide that our advertising--what we say about Christ--doesn't match up with our behavior, so they no longer listen to what we say. They have no interest in a relationship with Christ.
Can we be perfect? No, everyone has a bad day. But we can be aware that others are watching and ask the Lord to help us demonstrate His love. Being honest about how we're feeling and willing to apologize when we've behaved in a manner that we regret can go a long way in soothing hurt feelings.
If we're frequently feeling angry, edgy and impatient, talking with a close friend may help us discover what is disturbing our peace.
Perhaps a health concern is at the root of the problem or a loved one is going through a crisis. Sleep deprivation or an overcrowded schedule leaves us less able to cope with disappointments and challenges. Talking with a doctor about sleep disturbances and having a physical may provide some answers. Cutting back on our activities or asking others for help may ease the load. Taking time daily to relax can greatly reduce tension and enable us to respond better to unexpected delays and inconveniences.
Prayer is also a powerful resource. God can calm our spirits and give us the strength to respond graciously in difficult circumstances.
When we're dismayed by our imperfections Philippians 1:6 (NIV) is a wonderful verse to remember: "Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." As we keep turning our hearts toward Him and asking for His help, we can be certain that He will not give up on us.
© by Nancy A. Stevens