“Communicating hope and trust in our time.”

- Pope Francis

Difficult people are blessings

Mau Obon

By Mau Ubon

ONCE I chanced upon a Facebook ad for an upcoming movie about aspiring lawyers. It showed this woman professor, whose sound of footsteps seems to usher in an era of persecution, at least in the mind of her students. Then the camera zoomed in the pathway treaded by the terrifying thuds, and memories came flooding back in. I saw the same flooring where I sat years ago, as I wait to enter a tormenting, one to three hours long, class. Then the scene shifted to the classroom, where a student was berated for giving an answer with the dreaded phrase, “I think”. In law school, saying what one “thinks” is a mortal sin, unless asked for by the professor. Heck, you are not even allowed to smile as you answer.

The classroom scene brought me to my first year in law school, when I tasted my “shining” moment number one. The professor asked me about five questions. I gave the right answers, except for the last one, as my professor yelled at me saying “If you don’t know the right answer, you better shut up! Shut up!” You know what his last question was? He wanted me to give the meaning of a Latin phrase found at the footnote in one of the twenty something cases he asked us to read. Whew! I can’t describe how I felt that time, I just felt my cheeks flushed in utter embarrassment. Getting four out of five isn’t so bad to deserve a trashing. My professor must have been a prince from the netherworld!

Years later though, I realized the value of that experience. I found that there is a blessing in every difficult person or situation that we encounter. Indeed, that shining moment number one taught me at least four lessons:

ONE, I learned not to take harsh treatment seriously. It’s actually a waste of time. Focusing on what the other person did to me will only distract me from my goals. It wasn’t me who was being nasty. I can do nothing about the other person’s attitude but I have full control over my reaction. Certainly, holding a grudge, thinking on how to get even will only attract negative energy and it won’t do me any good.

TWO, it showed me the kind of person I should not be. Being in the receiving end of hostility is a lifetime lesson on how not to treat people.

THREE, it taught me how to be forgiving. Well, I can be the difficult one sometimes. If other people let me get away with it, why should I not do the same to others? Besides, forgiveness is the key why mean people can’t affect me in a negative way.

FOUR, it made me more prayerful. They can really get into my nerves. Instead of having murderous thoughts, I say a prayer to the Holy Spirit to guide me on how to act with grace and wisdom.

Now you might be thinking what happened to me after that incident with my professor who was a prince from the netherworld. Before midterms, half of the class dropped the subject. Realizing that the number of his students has fallen, his royal highness became amazingly gentler with us. Maybe his harshness at the start was his way of weeding out the cowardly from the bold. His way of bringing out those who can withstand the challenges of the legal profession. Whatever his reason may be, all I know is that, my unpleasant encounter with him did not define my fate in class. I never allowed it to. In the end, he gave me one of the highest grades.

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