Sophie’s Choice

February 17, 2023


Where to go when people drive you crazy

One Sunday a small boy turned around in church, leaned toward my granddaughter Sophie, slapped her arm and stole her cookie. Sophie was 10 months old. The boy was two. If you’ve had a two-year-old you’re not so surprised. But Sophie was. She looked down at her empty hand, then up at her mama. Her cookie was gone. She’d been slapped. The little boy’s mother was horrified. She turned around, apologized profusely, and handed the cookie back.

Now I must admit that when my daughter told me this, I was less than charitable. I silently wanted Sophie to deliver some pay back to the cookie thief. I’ll tell you what she did in a minute, but the cookie thief reminded me that people can drive us crazy. A Laugh Again listener asked, “What can you advise me on dealing with people who suck the life out of you?”

Recently a New Zealander had a disagreement with a clerk at his bank. He later returned with a brown paper bag, paid for a safety deposit box, and locked the bag in the box. Some rob banks, this guy left something behind.

Things were fine at the bank for forty-eight hours. Then clerks began sniffing the air. Customers looked at each other with suspicious glances. Finally the bank closed its doors and the deposit boxes were dismantled one at a time until the bag was found. It contained a ripe fish.

The truth is, some people want you to be as miserable as they are. The cure would take a book, but here’s a starter kit.

1. Give thanks that most people treat you well.

2. Pray for those who irritate you. I have prayed horrible prayers of condemnation, but keep at it. Prayers soften. And pray for yourself. You can’t control another’s behaviour; you can control your response.

3. If they are mildly annoying, shrug it off. If it’s bigger, list the issues and address them kindly in person, never by email or text. If this fails, there are times when these things must be dealt with by another party.

4. Remember that Jesus said love your enemies. And He showed us how.

So did Sophie. When that toddler slapped her and stole her cookie, she took a bite, then gave the rest back to him. I’m so thankful she is a great improvement on her grandpa.

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