Body language and mind games...
The other day I sat parked at a pharmacy drive-through window waiting for one of the workers to finish with my request. It took a little longer than normal, which happens. I didn't mind waiting, but learned a lesson when I glanced in the rearview mirror to the car behind me. The lady in the driver's seat gestured up and down, back and forth intermittently with both hands. At first I thought she was on her cell phone and had one of those habits of talking with her hands. But on further inspection could see she was waving impatiently at me - as if I could hurry the guy in the pharmacy... The woman's impatience at first almost amused me. If she could have seen how she looked, she might have thought twice about her curt gestures. But then I thought - how often have I done the same thing? How often am I impatient with people in line ahead of me or drivers who do things that frustrate me? Am I any better? Ugh...
Body language reveals far more than words. And it sends a message to those watching whether I realize they are watching or not.
While the written word can also convey a message, it can sometimes be misconstrued where no body language, no face to face engagement is possible. Something said in innocence, with teasing intent, cannot always be conveyed even by smiley faces and email winks. And a serious tone, however carefully worded, can be taken to mean something more than is intended. How often do I try to read between the lines and attribute motive behind written words where perhaps no motive or a different motive was in the mind of the writer?
How easily we judge each other! And yet not one of us can read minds. Even body language can lie. That woman in the car behind me sure looked like she was impatient and angry with me by her scowl and flicks of her wrist, but maybe she was angry at something else. I don't know what raised her ire, or how bad her day had been. If she had a sick child at home who was desperately in need of medication, her anxiety would have made sense.
I wonder how often we change our opinions of one another based on things like this - things like motive, which we cannot see in an email or blog post or even in that tell-tale body language we do see face to face. How many mind games do we play trying to assume things that might not be true?
Perhaps this is why God tells us to bear with one another in love. Be a little less quick to judge another's motives and a little more aware of how my own actions will be judged by those around me. But bearing with others in love means sacrificing my need to be right, my need to be offended, my need to be accepted...and so much more. Bearing with others is hard work.
I suppose if loving were easy, it would be worth far less.