My sister Shelah likes to say this. Most of the time I hear her pronouncing these words, it’s been an attempt to remind another sister that there are other people also living here. For a while there, Shelah said it so frequently that it became background noise! Really, though, I think she’s making a good point. In fact, I think there’s actually more than one good point to be made from it.

One is the context in which Shelah used it. It was an admonishment not to be selfish and a reminder that the world does not revolve around you. It was a (sometimes much needed!) reminder to behave better and remember others nearby.

That’s all good, but I think there’s another, more subtle benefit to this admonishment. It doesn’t have to be all about you. It’s not required, demanded, forced, which means that sometimes it can be easier to let things go, because they are not about you. Relationships inevitably produce friction between the people involved. Sometimes that friction occurs because those people have some problems with each other. Other times, though, friction occurs because one or both of those people is having a bad day and become unusually sensitive to little things. Things that are normally fine are somehow so completely irritating or upsetting or otherwise emotionally charged. Molehills ARE mountains!! And sometimes the person-having-bad-day is easily offended, and some of sort of conflict breaks out.

If it’s your turn to be the unfortunate offender of a person who is having a hard time thanks to life in general instead of with you in particular, you might try offering a simple apology that deals specifically with whatever the (minor) offense was, such as, “I’m sorry that what I said was upsetting. It didn’t come out quite right, and I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings.” Sometimes that’s enough, and sometimes they’re still grumpy butts who are still having a bad day and still feel snarly. At times like that, minor conflicts are easily escalated into mountains, and this is a fantastic time to remember that it’s not about you.

Don’t get sucked in. Don’t take it personally. Don’t accept blame for their bad day. Don’t get huffy about their snarling. Don’t make an effigy of them and burn it, or turn their picture into a dart board. Don’t worry about their audition for a part on Sesame Street as Oscar the Grouch.  Give them some grace. Be a good friend or neighbor. Remember, instead, that God loves ’em – bless their grumpy, little hearts -and that they’re having a hard time that is not about you. It’s much easier, I think, to then forgive the conflict and let it go. Makes for lighter living and better sleeping if I remember that often enough, it’s not all about me.

What do you think?