What do you do when you come into contact with “that person?” You know which one I’m talking about. The obnoxious, repeat-offender that can’t seem to keep their comments to themselves. How about the person that feels like they’re always right, and never admits their own fault? I’m pretty certain you have a name floating around in your head right now. As much as you may hate to admit it, just like you have that someone in your head, other people may have YOU on their list of the obnoxious ones. Hard to believe, isn’t it? I know.
The problem is, whenever there is personal interaction, the probability of personality conflicts will always be present. Furthermore, depending on the environment and personalities involved, that probability soars. It’s just the risk you take by interacting with others. Scientifically speaking, it’s called entropy, which is the natural tendency of the universe to be in chaos. In others words, no one/nothing is perfect. Have you ever wondered why you have to clean house so often, or say the same things over and over and over again to your kids or spouse? It’s all epitomized in one word…entropy; and entropy equals chaos.
When it comes to relationships, very little can be done to control other people. However, there is one thing you can control, and that is your perspective. Either you can view difficult people and situations as major sources of pain, or you can view them as God’s scaffolding preparing your life for growth.
Your Life: God’s Construction Site
Now, here is where you say, “Brian, what do you mean by God’s scaffolding…” and this is where I insert a true story to explain.
Because I travel quite a bit with my job, I have tons of time to think and observe. One day, as I was travelling along a very familiar route, I noticed a construction site in the distance. A building was going up, and workers were scaling the edifice like ants over an ant mound. I also noticed a familiar site surrounding the building. It was a huge network of scaffolding. The workers were able to work at altitudes that would not have been possible without the scaffolding in place.
Nothing spectacular about that, right?
Well, quite some time had passed and I found myself travelling that old familiar route again. As I came upon that same construction site, I noticed this beautifully erected building that was now standing tall and majestic. However, something was missing that was there before. You guessed it…the scaffolding was gone. You see, your life is like a construction site. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never seen a neat and tidy construction site. In my experience, construction is always messy. Heavy vehicles crawl the site transporting building supplies and materials. In most cases, it becomes necessary to bring in scaffolding, because there is only so much work that can be done on ground level. By definition, a scaffold is a temporary or movable platform or structure on which a person stands or sits while working high above the floor or ground. While God is building you, he allows you to be surrounded with the scaffolding of difficulty, so that the hard, fallow ground in your heart can be accessed by His Spirit within you. If it were not for the resistance of difficulty, you would never gain the strength and fortitude to expand and rise to higher heights. I believe difficulty serves as a heart-opener. Just like fruit is pressed to unleash the sweet juices that we all enjoy, so our lives release the sweetness of ministry when we are pressed and broken.
God is the Great Architect and Master Builder. He knows how to use difficult people and tumultuous situations to build you up and work for your good. One of the most beloved scriptures in the Bible states:
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28 (NIV)
God takes all of the messy things in your life (your past failures, bad decisions, and set-backs) and makes something beautiful out of it all like only He can. In fact, these things are designed to make you taller, stronger and wiser. You can be complacent and remain at ground-level, but at some point, if you desire to fulfill the command of God upon your life, the scaffolding must be brought in and you MUST grow.
Therefore, embrace the scaffolding of difficulty as part of God’s building process in your life. See yourself rising to heights and altitudes never before experienced. Yes…that person is unpleasant. Yes…that experience is uncomfortable. Keep in mind that until you learn how to endure and navigate through the pain of expansion, your growth will always be impeded.
YOU: The Finished Product
Scaffolding is usually temporary. By the time the finished product is revealed, the scaffolding has already served its purpose. However, in many cases, the scaffolding is put in place before the growth begins. You can always tell when you’re about to enter a growth phase by the intensity of the fight in your life. I know it’s a challenge during these times to remain encouraged, but remember the words of the Apostle Paul as stated in 2 Corinthians 4:17 (NIV):
“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”
God is about to reveal what He has been working on in your life all this time. He’s about to pull back the curtains of your life to reveal the masterpiece of YOU. You’ve been surrounded by scaffolding while God has been working, and your life has been a mess because of the imperfections of your past. You’ve been like clay on the wheel of the Potter, and have endured the discomfort of the Refiner’s fire. Be encouraged, even though you may not realize it, this has made you stronger, smarter, and more tenacious.
So the next time you see “that person” approaching, don’t do a “180” and run the other way. Instead, stick your chest out, hold your head up and say to yourself…”It’s GROW time.”