How's it been going with RAP practice? (No; I'm not referring to the musical genre!)
In a post earlier this month, I told you about the RAP method of letting go of those little offenses that can really hurt. If not dealt with, they will cause you to harbor bitterness and resentment for a long time.
The RAP method has helped me in a number of situations. When someone cuts me off in traffic and I feel a twinge of irritation, I remember the times I’ve done it myself, and my frustration disappears. It’s difficult to stay mad at somebody else when you’re conscious of your own flaws, dwelling on the positive rather than the negative, and lifting another in prayer.
Recently, on an evening flight back to Kansas City, the flight attendant seemed unusually grumpy. She was short with passengers. She barked the orders to turn off phones and electronics. Her demeanor set others on edge, including me. My first reaction was, She needs to work on her people skills. I’m surprised they have her on a flight like this.
But in the midst of mentally condemning her poor people skills, I remembered another trip when I had been short with someone else. I had been tired and in a hurry, and I was rude. I didn’t mean to be. It didn’t reflect who I hope to be or who I think I really am.
When I remembered my own recent failure at kindness, compassion, and patience, I found I was much more gracious toward our flight attendant, which led me to the second step of RAP: assume the best of the person who has slighted you.
I began imagining what may have caused the flight attendant to be so impatient and grumpy. I wondered if she had a child sick at home, or if she wasn’t feeling well. I imagined she might be working overtime and was just very tired.
That led me to the P in RAP: pray for the person. I did what Jesus told us to do for those who may not treat us well. He told us to pray for them and to love them. I began to pray for my flight attendant: “Lord, you know what her circumstances are. She seems particularly stressed, tired, or at the end of her rope. Please bless her, and use me to bless her.”
As I began to pray for the flight attendant, an interesting thing happened. In my heart, I felt compassion for her and wanted to bless her. When she finally came to my seat and asked what I wanted to drink, I felt prompted to tell her, “I want you to know how grateful I am for you and for the way you serve us. Your job really matters, and you make our flight easier.”
She paused, taken aback, and then she smiled and said, “It’s been a hectic day, and it seems I’ve had one complaint after another. You’re the first person to thank me in a long time. I really appreciate that.”
For the rest of the flight, she was a different person. All she had needed was one person to show kindness, and she was able to let go of the frustration and stress she’d been feeling all day.
Before I got off the plane, she thanked me again for my encouraging words.
Just RAP: remember your own shortcomings, assume the best of people, and pray for them.
This post is excerpted from my brand-new book, Forgiveness.
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