We all know someone who’s a little high-maintenance as far as how much they require from you in order to remain kind—civil, even. The strange thing is, no one thinks of themselves as high-maintenance! One day, I had a disturbing revelation about myself which led to new levels of grace in my relationships. I hope my story can help you, too.
Many years ago, I started to dread going to church. 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. 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. I mean really high-maintenance. Every ounce of mental and emotional margin I had was zapped after a conversation with her. I found myself trying to figure out how I could be spared of those encounters. Arrive to church after worship started. Jet out the side door during the final prayer.
One day, I shared my frustration with my husband and he said he’s experienced this as well. Then, his next statement baffled me. He said, “Now when I see someone who leans toward being overly needy, I go directly up to them. I don’t wait for someone to come to me.”
Huh. What a novel idea. Go up to someone and instigate making them feel loved as one should. I felt immediate conviction because I would have always considered myself a loving person, someone who treats everyone the same. But honestly, in that season I was only loving the people who were easy to love (Luke 6:32). There I was, complaining about someone God put in my path for me to love.
I decided to heed my husband’s wisdom, and the next week I got to church early and went right up to her. We hugged, and I engaged her in conversation. It wasn’t long or drawn-out—less than five minutes.
There was no blood, pain, or anything terrible. It was actually very pleasant. 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.
I’m convinced she felt loved because her neediness subsided quite a bit. And it only took five minutes of my oh-so-precious time to make a woman feel loved. I literally made her day with just a little bit of intention.
That is humbling and convicting.
Convicting because hello, “My name is Cindy, and I’m the queen of sinners.” Humbling because shortly after that, the thought dawned on me, “What if I’m a high-maintenance person for someone else?”
Am I high-maintenance? Gulp. Say it isn’t so.
But, it is! I can read people fairly well, and I can tell when they’re 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’re thinking, “I hope she stops talking now.”
Self-awareness is wonderfully brutal.
There was a problem with this situation in my life—only it wasn’t her. No, the problem was within me. I need to show more compassion and grace toward people who challenge me, because I’ve been shown so much grace, too. My heart has enlarged for this woman, and I just see her so differently now.
We all have people in our lives who deplete our emotional margin more than they make deposits into it. 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.
And He will fill us up with joy, grace, and peace in the process.