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Common Courtesy
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“My husband and I were married 64 years,” said a woman at the lunch table. “I’m glad he died because I couldn’t take one more year of him!”

My friend’s newly-widowed mother, who heard her speak, began to weep. “My husband was always so kind and gentle. I miss him so much!”

When my friend told me of the conversation, I began to wonder: Will those closest to me be sad or glad when I die?

A young preacher and his family moved into our neighborhood many years ago. They weren’t there very long. The church which hired him soon fired him. I got to know him fairly well, perhaps much better than he realized. The back of their property joined with the far corner of our property. Even with our windows closed, we could hear him shouting in anger at his wife and children.

His in-laws lived there too, and I became good friends with the older couple. Seems the young preacher was taking psychology courses toward becoming a counselor. He didn’t like me because I didn’t buy into his theory that much of our physical pain and emotional disorders are caused by anger bottled up inside. The theory may have held some truth, but I utterly disagreed with his method of cure—“letting the anger out” on everyone around him. (It wasn’t long after he moved to a new assignment that we learned his entire family had left him, even his favorite child whom he adored.)

Demanding, Rude, Angry

How do you deal with the person in your family who is demanding, rude, angry? Maybe it’s an older person becoming more set in his or her ways; or suffering fear and insecurity? If the situation is serious or threatening, a physician’s evaluation is essential.

I’ve read that traits of character become more pronounced after the age of 40. In other words, train yourself when you are young to become the person that you want to be when you are old. If you’re arrogant and bossy at 20 and 30, there is a strong chance that people will be truly sick of you when you’re 50 or 60.

One wife relates that when it’s hard for her to find love in her heart for her spouse, she begins viewing him as a beggar on the street or a patient in a hospital. She extends to him the courtesy she would give to a needy stranger. Her own hurt and needs are defused by recognizing that this “stranger” in her life is also hurt and needy. She then makes him and their relationship an earnest object of her prayers and attention.

Are we not each broken and needy? Regardless of age, health, and upbringing, are we not, in some way, “wounded beggars on the street of life”? Is not each person alive, even those in prison, deserving of common courtesy and kindness? Surely, then, family should be on the front line for our best behavior.

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By Lois Pecce. Copyright © 2013 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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