A friend of mine was the unfortunate recipient recently of drive-by anger. Having just wrapped up a walk with a friend and her dog, the women were two blocks from home when my friend’s dog spotted another owner and dog and the two began sniffing each other (the dogs, that is!). My friend’s dog was momentarily unleashed because (seriously) the leash had broken a few blocks back, and the other dog’s owner immediately took issue. She launched into a tirade at my friend who was summarily insulted over the quality of her leash-buying skills, her dog ownership capabilities, and her clear threat to the neighborhood at large. All of which was communicated at a fever pitch. And all of which was completely unnecessary.
But that’s not where the story ends.
Rather than returning anger for anger, my friend immediately said to her walking companion, “Wow. That woman must have had a really hard day to have treated me like that.” Her friend was incredulous. “Aren’t you mad? I can’t believe you kept your cool.” “Actually,” my friend replied, “I don’t want to fight back. To be honest, I want to make her some banana bread.”
As non sequitur as it may sound, she’s right. That over-the-top reaction had absolutely nothing to do with her or her dog, and everything to do with…something. The point is, we have no idea what people are going through when they whiz past us with their middle finger extended, or tailgate us on Highway 82, or leave a lengthy meeting in a huff, or fire off a hurtful email. But one thing’s for sure: it ain’t about us. People have stuff, man. It isn’t always rational, and it isn’t always known to others, and it almost always colors the way they view the world. You know what they need? Banana bread. Something’s wrong, make it better. And if you can’t make it better (and the chances are slim, friends), give them grace. Grace is the free and unmerited favor of God and the bestowal of blessings. How about we try that on for size? Give them a wide berth (because you need your own peace of mind, for goodness sake), and some safe space to just figure out their nasty ol’ self. Banana bread them. Banana bread says, you are obviously going through a hard thing that only comfort food can fix; I’m your girl.
But here’s the thing — you don’t actually have to bake banana bread, people. Banana Bread is a mindset. A way of life. A way of offering grace to the hurting people.
Grace is you smiling at the screaming dog lady while you’re actually thinking, “You are acting like a crazy person right now, but you must have some stuff you’re dealing with so I am going to just move along.”
No, it doesn’t ever feel good to be someone’s punching bag. But it feels “less worse” to know their punches most likely aren’t even aimed at you to begin with they’re just a horrible shot. Let go, let God, and get the heck out of their way.
Because you know what we don’t need more of in this world? Vitriolic anger, divisive back-stabbing, sarcasm, put-downs, jealousy, spitefulness, bitter words, people projecting their own issues, or making assumptions, or terrorizing, or creating fear, or just…whatever. Banana bread them.
People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered. Love them anyway.
~Kent M. Keith