Seeing the Christ in other people does not always necessitate that we have warm, cozy feelings about them. Christ surely did not have warm, cozy feelings for the Roman guard who scourged him mercilessly. Love and forgiveness is not always about liking the other person. In fact, it’s completely possible to not like someone but to love them all the same. This is why Christ calls us to love our enemies, as he did.
I had a co-worker who about a year and a half ago I could not tolerate. She was technically my supervisor even though she wasn’t in any formal management position. Day in, day out, I found her demands to be too much, and there were times when I would cry as a result of feeling over-burdened by not only her demands but by my attempt to not curse her!
I soon learned that *nobody *liked her. She seemingly had no friends because everyone seemed to be repulsed by how she acted. Sometimes she would call while a group of us were out having a beer at a local pub, but nobody would answer. This got me to thinking: how would that make me feel? Here’s a divorced young woman, I remembered thinking, with two young kids, bad finances, and no friends: is it any wonder she acts as she does? She’s lonely, she needs understand – she needs love!
Mother Theresa wrote a beautiful meditation/prayer entitled “I Thirst For You.” It is a meditation involving Christ speaking directly to a person’s heart. At one point, Christ says,
I know what is in your heart – I know your loneliness and all your hurts – the rejections, the judgments, the humiliations, I carried it all before you. And I carried it all for you, so you might share My strength and victory. I know especially your need for love – how you are thirsting to be loved and cherished. But how often have you thirsted in vain, by seeking that love selfishly, striving to fill the emptiness inside you with passing pleasures – with the even greater emptiness of sin. Do you thirst for love? *“Come to Me all you who thirst…” *(Jn. 7: 37). I will satisfy you and fill you. Do you thirst to be cherished? I cherish you more than you can imagine – to the point of dying on a cross for you.
(read the full text here)
Over time, I got to know my co-worker better each day by listening to her talk to me and to other people, by watching how she acted, and I began to see little pieces of myself in her. We really weren’t all that different, after all. Soon, when other people gossiped about her, I would have no part of it. We had a big downsizing at the office a few months back, and she was one of the many to be let go. I now miss having her around, and I pray for her often.
Maybe give yourself time to see why your own supervisor acts as he/she does. Is there something going on in that person’s life which makes them so intolerable? If so, what is it? Can you relate to those problems? If not, then try visualizing a day in the life of your supervisor. Only then will your need to gossip truly come to an end. And, as my priest has said in the past, if you feel the need to pray for someone who you think is sinful, then pray for yourself since you’re likely worse.