I recently heard a female “old-timer” speaking about people in her life who just rub her the wrong way or grate on her nerves. She called them “spiritual sandpaper”. I’ve been thinking about that. Why do we sand wooden objects? It’s to remove bumpy, discolored, rough and splintery places by slowly, repeatedly wearing them down.
I don’t imagine that being sanded “feels good”. It’s an intrusive, even hurtful experience. The wood must lose parts of itself, little by little. The areas that require deep, repetitive sanding heat up, sometimes to the point that it burns the fingers of the person doing the sanding. But when it’s done, the piece is lovely to look at and pleasant to the touch. That is, until it gets used often enough that another sanding is due.
I don’t like to admit that I need sanding. I want my recovery to be in my control. I want to my readings, complete my sponsor’s assignments, go to meetings, say a prayer or two, and then sit back and reap the rewards of my efforts. But God knows that there are bumps and splintery parts in my character that can’t be removed by my own efforts alone. They require in-the-battlefield engagement.
How can I develop patience and tolerance unless I am confronted with annoying people? How can I learn forgiveness if no one offends me? How do I know how to manage my anger if no one ever ticks me off? How do I learn how to deal with life on life’s terms if everything revolves around my own comforts and desires?
Okay. So we know that in theory, we need some spiritual sanding in order to grow. But how do we handle it when we’re feeling grated and begin to heat up in the face of rasping people? Here is a short list of tools to reach for when the going gets rough. It’s not exhaustive, but it’s a good start. I’d love to hear of more ideas that have worked for you!
*Use the serenity prayer.
*Apply Rule 62: Don’t take yourself so seriously. How important is the situation in the long run, really?
*Pray for the offending person, that they would be blessed and know peace.
*Practice steps 1 through 3. “I am powerless over this person’s thoughts and actions. I believe that God has the power to bring sanity to the situation. I’ll do what I can to get out of his way and let him.”
*Thank God for the opportunity to practice the principles of recovery in all your affairs. Try to see it as a challenge to be the best you that you can be.
*Ask yourself, “Is it more important for me to be happy or for me to be right?”