How to Deal with Sandpaper People

sandpaper and wood

Tonight I had an encounter with someone who has always “just grated on me”. Is that a southern term? I don’t know, but for those of you not sure what it means, just imagine that I’m cheese and this person makes me feel like I’m being raked across a cheese grater whose sharp edges grind me into a million little pieces.

Cheese grater and cheese
Grating on my nerves.

Or imagine I’m a piece of rough wood and this person is sandpaper rubbing up against me constantly. That’s what it means.

I’m not sure what prompted me to even go toward this person, because normally I wouldn’t even go near the vicinity of the space this person occupies. I know that I disagree with so many of the beliefs to which this person subscribes, so why even bother?

But, something prompted me to do it anyway.

So, what did I do first? I prayed.

I prayed, “Lord, help me to encounter this person with a heart only full of love. Lord, I’ve never cared much for this person, and I have always wanted to turn the opposite direction when i see anything with this person involved in it.

But, Lord, this time help me to turn TO this person. Help me to look AT this person. Help me to listen TO this individual. And most of all, Lord, help me to see and hear and love them as YOU see and hear and love them.

And guess what happened?

Well, I still don’t agree with everything this person says or believes.

The words this person spoke didn’t change me or my views or anything like that.

The whole situation wasn’t exactly the most pleasant experience, either.

But what did happen is listening. And I did begin to understand better why this person believes and says some of the things he/she does.

And it wasn’t like nails on a chalkboard to see and listen.

It was human. It was kind of natural.

And actually, it was probably super-human, and super-natural – because the Holy Spirit does that. He supernaturally brings each of us into COMMUNION, into UNITY with one another, even when it goes completely against what our flesh FEELS.

And once the Holy Spirit started connecting us supernaturally, spiritually, my heart FELT connected, and it was easy to have complete brotherly, godly love for this person.

It’s like what I talked about on here the other day – sometimes, we just gotta go ahead and ACT IN OBEDIENCE, and the feelings will follow.

Am I surprised by this?

No, not really. This is what Christ has always taught us.

But believing something is true and doing it are two different things.

And we need to do this even in the things that seem small and unimportant in our life. It seems more important if we do this in our marriages, our relationships with our children, our friends, etc… We desire to work those relationships out, after all, so we put in the effort.

But we also need to do this in those relationships that haven’t ever even really “mattered” to us before.

This isn’t a new thing to me. I’ve experienced it before.

But I want to experience it MORE. Better. Deeper. Constantly.

We must truly LIVE out our beliefs.

And we need the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of the Lord, in our lives to help us overcome ourselves, to help us battle our own flesh, our natural tendencies.

With Him on our side, we’ve got this, friends! We can actually change ourselves, and become more loving, more understanding, more unified with one another.

And if we let it happen, those “sandpaper people” can help rub out the rough, knotty, grainy, stubborn old pieces of wood and help turn US into pieces of smooth, beautiful wood made to reflect the image of Christ, more and more every day.

sandpaper and wood
“Sandpaper People” can help smooth out YOUR own rough edges.

Just give it a try.


Here are some tips as to how this has worked for me, over and over:

1. I prayed for the Holy Spirit to help me “do the thing that wasn’t easy for me” (the right thing to do – from something as simple as just talking to someone I would normally avoid, to falling in love with my spouse again), because it certainly wasn’t the thing I FELT like doing.

2. I went ahead and DID THE THING, even though it was hard, and felt weird, and it was totally NOT what I wanted to do, and I just wasn’t “feeling it”.

3. I KEPT DOING IT. Over and over. Daily. As much as I was called to do it. Even when it went completely against my grain to do it.

4. I continued to pray – while doing it, for the strength to do it, and for God to change my heart and mind and soul about it, completely.

And when these changes are needed in my life – whether they are feelings that I have towards others or changes that need to be made in my day-to-day living or healing in my marriage – and even though the change in my heart doesn’t always come like a lightning bolt or happen overnight, MY HEART DOES CHANGE, and the actions become MUCH EASIER when I continue to STEP OUT IN FAITH and go ahead and ACT on what the Lord has commanded me to DO. He has always been faithful to follow through and change my heart, mind, and soul after I have been obedient to act and heed His commands.

If you’re struggling with something you know that the Lord is calling you to do, but you just “aren’t feeling it” – just know that


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