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Friday, November 8, 2013

Sandpaper people

Teacher Tom: The Tradition Of The Sandpaper Gingerbread Babies
You can catch this post on my column at The Holmes County Bargain Hunter 

Blinders, that’s what we need - like horses trotting down the street so things to the left and right of us don’t distract or upset us. So we can travel through this world blindly, untouched, unmoved by people and things around us. So our world stays sterile and unruffled. That’s what we need, blinders.

Our world, the one spinning on its axis as we speak, as it hurtles us round and round so fast that we stand still, has lots of different people in it. There are people that we love, the ones that we gather close enough to count the hairs on their head. They are the ones who exasperate us to the point of exhaustion, but our love and the commitment of life we have given to them keeps us in the game. It keeps us close to that burning fire of love we have, even though it sometimes dims to a flicker. We must fan that flame so it burns bright enough for us to see it even through the dim, shadowy places we walk. It needs to be there to pull us out. If it goes out, we may be lost forever.

People fill our lives. We have friends, acquaintances, “FB” friends, co-workers (many who we count as friends), spouses, children, people we want to avoid and people that you could consider “sandpaper” people – as my good friend and co-worker used to describe people that rub us the wrong way. Thank you, Angie, for this wonderful way of putting it. If I may speak for everyone, we all have a sandpaper person. Don’t even try to say you don’t have one. 

In our world full of hurting people, having a sandpaper person can take you to the limit. We’re going about our day, getting things done and bam – there is that person. Our childish minds want to flee, run, avoid and ignore. The adult mind, at this point, should step in and remind you to act as an adult. Too often, our adult side doesn’t kick in. Our minds start to falter and our shoulders fill with tension as our faces turn into an ugly grimace that just doesn’t seem to fade. We’ve let our sandpaper person get the best of us. It could be that FB person that posts their political views every other post, or the one that is constantly bragging about their expensive purchases. Maybe it’s someone that doesn’t have a lot of money that we see as being too needy and dependent, or it could be someone that thinks too highly of themselves and we want to knock them down. All of these people exist in the world. All of these people are put in our path for a reason. We, and I include myself in this at times, are failing miserably. 

Without God reminding me on a daily basis, I am a person without compassion. I want to run this race being perfectly selfish and only focusing on myself and what I need. Fortunately, the big guy upstairs keeps on whispering (mostly yelling) in my ear to get over myself. He reminds me that when my sandpaper person comes around to put my big girl clothes on and act like He knows I should. How do we know that the other person doesn’t need love in a big way today? If we round that corner at the store and run smack dab into them, then how can we avoid the fact that it’s for a reason? Why do we pass by people that are less fortunate than us, people that life has simply passed by, and think get off your butt and get to work? Maybe those people need a hand up, not a judging word uttered in pure disgust. We are failing at the things God is putting in front of us. We worry about military strikes in other countries, complain about who should get/deserve healthcare and sustenance help, when people are dying a slow death because our country is devoid of compassion. We’ve got our blinders on and are running fast and furious, straight ahead, without looking to the side. Those blinders need to come off. Those blinders need to be thrown in a pile and burned. We’ve got to scoop ourselves up, fill up our lives with compassion and love, and spread it around to the people that stick in our side like a thorn. If we don’t, we will shrivel away slowly without using the love God has put in our hearts. Take off your blinders and see the big world and all the people in it, sandpaper and all.

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