- The people we love who have a claim on us (spouse, family, parents, close friends)
- The people we have to give up. (The relationships aren't evil, but they distract us from fulfilling God's will.)
- The people we need to avoid (because they are occasions of sin).
- And the people we endure whom we can't avoid. (the boss, work associates, people in parish organizations we belong to, the nun in the religious order who jangles her rosary, classmates, etc.)
Fr. Hardon often spoke of the blessing of the fourth type -- the people we must endure. He said they are like sandpaper that rubs off the rough edges. Enduring them is an invitation to grow in patience and humility. I think in the new year I will examine my relationships and think about how I'm doing with the people in each of these categories.
What a challenge the fourth type is for me! I can think of a half dozen people right now who drive me crazy. Instead of looking at them as blemishes in my life, I'm going to try to think of them as gifts. What if I could do what St. Therese did and made them think they were the greatest blessing in my life. Wow! Could this curmudgeonly old lady do that?
I don't know, but what a challenge (and maybe even a fun adventure) to try. It's also instructive to remember that we are type four people for a lot of folks we know. So when someone is driving you crazy, remember that you drive someone crazy too. Hopefully, the thought will make you smile.