Do you have a difficult person in your life? Are you up to your neck in dysfunctional family relationships … hurt feelings … misunderstood words … and wounded hearts?
Relationships can be a picture of heaven on earth … or of hell on earth, for sure!
When those to whom we are in closest relationship are also our “difficult person”, it is just a matter of time before friction commences, peace walks out the door and anger walks in.
What are your options in those over-heated and contentious moments?
You can choose the silent treatment … it’s been around for generations.
Just. Stop Talking.
I used to be an expert in giving the silent treatment; I would justify myself by smugly saying, “My father used to say if you can’t say anything nice than don’t say anything at all.”
So … I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t say anything at all. My lips were tightly sealed and so was my heart.
The problem with the silent treatment is that nothing is ever resolved. The ugly issue might be swept under the rug of avoidance and ignored only until the next fractious word is spoken. Then that same hideous issue will magically appear and it will be bigger and more divisive than before!
The silent treatment has never worked for me and it probably won’t work for you, either.
Another option that people often turn to when dealing with difficult people is choosing the guilt-free default of playing the “Blame Game”. What?! You’ve never heard of it before?! Surely you jest!
The infamous and highly competitive “Blame Game” has its roots in the Garden of Eden. When God confronted Adam about his decision to eat from the fruit that had been forbidden, Adam blamed Eve! The nerve of that first man!
“The man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate.” – Genesis 3:12
Then, when God asked Eve what she had done, she said, “The devil made me do it!” (Well … that’s a very loose translation … but it is the heart of what the first woman communicated to her Creator.)
Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” And the woman said, “The serpent deceived me and I ate.” – Genesis 3:13
Blame often includes name-calling, misplaced responsibility and refusal to own the problem; none of those things promote healthy relationships in a family or in a friendship.
The problem with blame is that bitterness can grow between dear friends and family members. Blame is not the healing balm that relationship requires. Blame may make you feel better about yourself temporarily, however, the relationship will have no chance of survival.
Blame is like poison and silence is not golden. Are there any other options?
Well … when someone is acting in an unkind and difficult manner … you can yell and scream.
You can stamp your feet and slam doors … you can gossip and you can rant on social media.
You can act like a selfish two-year-old if you choose to … but I wouldn’t recommend it.
This loud type of indignant behavior will destroy hearts, deepen wounds and build walls. Childlike and angry behavior may seem justified momentarily, but when the passage of time takes place, you will realize that all that is left of a former relationship is black and charred ruins. You may also realize at that juncture in life that you were the one that threw gas on the fire rather than water. It was your decision to exhibit out of control anger that destroyed everything in its path.
God actually created you to love people who are monstrously rude!
He placed you here at this time in history because He trusted that you would indeed allow His glory to shine out of you into the darkness of people's souls.
You will only do this when you determine in your heart that you want to be like Jesus. You will only do this when you decide that you would rather be like Jesus than give the silent treatment, play the blame game or throw an angry fit.
“Therefore, be imitators of God, as beloved children, and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.” - Ephesians 5:1 & 2
When you demonstrate love in monstrous situations and choose to be kind rather than throw an emotional and well-deserved tantrum, you are saying, “I will act like my Dad! I am part of His family and this is what we do! We love unlovable people. It is the family business to reach out with divine kindness to fractious people.”
Do not ever forget that you are the beneficiary of the family genetic code that enables you to love difficult people. It is what Christians do!
The world has a different standard of behavior and will encourage you to rationalize rude, vengeful behavior. The world will tell you to spew your feelings out upon difficult people but the world's way has never been God's way.
God does indeed have a game plan for every Scrooge, Barney Fife and Cruella DeVille that crosses the path of your life. God did not create you to be some whirling dervish who uses words to jab, hurt and control people. God created you to be a man or a woman who was more committed to Kingdom behavior than to self-righteous living. Difficult people can run away from your words but they can never escape your prayers.
“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” - Ephesians 4:31 & 32
We are all unlovable, dysfunctional and difficult in some way, aren't we? We all can become prickly, outspoken and contentious from time to time but I believe that the reason most of us are unlovable is because at our very core we are crying out to be loved. There will be many times in life when your decision to love a sharp and obnoxious porcupine will disarm them completely.
I believe that the Lord allows difficult people into our lives not to bring out the worst in us … but to bring out the Jesus in us!