In April 2005, I went to Paris with my kids, Mom, Aunt, and friends. Getting around the city was rather confusing (I spoke more French than any of us, and I only had one semester in 9th grade), but we managed to figure out where the train stations were and set about going to all the places tourists go. One morning we bought our Metro tickets, and Mom asked the man in the booth a question. I don’t remember what it was, but he looked at her like she was trash, and it ticked me off. I repeated her question, probably in a more authoritative voice than was necessary, and he answered me. I wanted to tell him what I thought of his Parisian attitude, but Mom was standing beside me. Instead, I glared at him and said, “God bless you!” I didn’t mean it, and Mom was amused.
Since then, I’ve tried to actually live Luke 6:28. The more I do it, the more cathartic it gets. Blessing those who irritate me relieves stress and irritation. Even on the worst days, when I’m behind some jerk who is determined to keep me under the posted speed limit, a well timed, “Well, bless your heart, honey!” will break the tension and maybe even make me laugh.
Matthew 5:11 says that I am blessed when people are ugly to me because of my faith. It doesn’t happen that often specifically because of my faith–most people are at least nominally Christian here–but it ties in with blessing those who curse you. Some people are only happy when they’re angry. If I am pleasant to those who are ugly, one of two things are likely to happen. Either their mood will lighten and they’ll have a better day, or I’ll tick them off, which will cause them to have a better day.
As we head into a new decade, I think about that guy in Paris. I wonder if he was having a bad day, or if he’s always that way. I’m sure I haven’t crossed his mind since that morning, and I smile when I think about the way a chance encounter has changed my long term thinking. Joyeux Noel et bonne annee, Parisian Metro Dude, and really, God bless you!