How To: Love The EGRs

LogoWritten by Cindy Beall

I started to dread going to church. Gosh, I hate admitting that, but it is so very true.

It wasn’t because my church was boring. Or that the worship was lame. Or that the message was uninspiring. Or that our staff wasn’t top notch. None of that was the case. No, the reason I felt this way was because of one woman.

This gal was high-maintenance. And I don’t mean just a little bit high-maintenance. I mean real high-maintenance. Extra Grace Required kind of maintenance. Every ounce of mental and emotional margin I had was zapped after a conversation with her.

I found myself trying to figure out ways where I could not have those encounters with her. Arrive to church after worship started. Jet out the side door during the final prayer. Stay backstage until I knew she was gone.

Then a couple of things happened that revolutionized my mindset.

One, I shared my frustration with my husband and he said that he has struggled with this as well. Then, his next statement baffled me. He said, “Now when I see her, I go directly up to her. I don’t wait for her to come to me.”

For real? He willingly subjects himself to a high-maintenance conversation? Stab me.

After arguing with myself, I finally decided to give it a try. The next week I got to church early and went right up to her. We hugged and I engaged her in a conversation that included lots of questions on my part. It wasn’t long or drawn out – less than five minutes. And then, I went about my way.

There was no blood. Or pain. Or anything terrible. It was actually very pleasant. So, I began to make this my new habit. She was the first person I would go up to. I would ask about her life, pray with her and tell her I loved her. And it only took five minutes of my time.

I’m convinced she felt loved because her neediness subsided quite a bit. In fact, she often tells Chris and me how much she loves and appreciates us. How she feels loved by us.

And it only took a five-minute conversation on my part. Five minutes of my oh so precious time made a woman feel loved. I literally made her day with just a little bit of intention.

That is humbling and convicting.

The second thing that occurred that shifted my thoughts about this was the realization that maybe I’m a high-maintenance person for someone else.

Gulp. Say it isn’t so.

But, it is! I can read people fairly well, and I can tell when they are finished with a conversation with me. I can tell when they want to walk away. I can tell when someone doesn’t want to stop and visit. I can tell that they are thinking, “I hope she stops talking now.”

And that, my friends, is brutal.

Cindy BeallThis understanding helped me even more. I needed to show more compassion and grace toward people whose lives are a bit more challenging than mine instead of just being annoyed with their neediness.

Today, this woman is one of my favorite gals at church. Is she still high-maintenance? Sure. But, not as much. Or maybe, my heart is just so different towards her now that I hardly notice.

We all have people in our lives who deplete our emotional margin more than they make deposits into it. That’s ministry. That’s life. But, if we will shift our mindsets and ask God to help us see how we can invest in their lives and be a blessing to them, He will.


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