We all know that we can’t please everybody, but do you ever feel like you can’t please anybody? It is such a frustrating place to be. Scowled at, scolded, surrounded by the silent treatment. It’s enough to make anyone want to throw in the towel and give up–or run away and hide on a warm, sunny beach somewhere!
Why we do what we do to one another is beyond me. Most of us are so quick to show our disapproval and to mete out consequences that we deem appropriate. We skirt around constructively plugging away at the real issues and passively wield our sharp little swords of unkind words, condescension and the ever-effective art of pretending the other party doesn’t exist, offering little hope of peace in the relationship. I have know more than one marriage to crumble under the hopelessness of one or more parties never feeling like they will be enough. Heaven knows that marriages aren’t the only relationships suffering with this sense of hostile futility.
I have been struggling with some relational blechy-ness lately. Some of it is my own doing, and some of it is the result of other folks’ actions. I have allowed the negativity of these circumstances to gradually take root in my spirit, feeding the growth of futile and unkind thoughts with my attention. These things have resulted in sin in my life–issues of self-control, pride and unforgiveness. I felt justified in my actions as long as I thought about the hurt in my heart.
Then, a friend sent me a quick message of encouragement. It was maybe two sentences long, but she cited a passage of Scripture to me and encouraged me in my pursuit of fulfilling those verses. The verses she chose, Titus 2:3-5, are a theme for this phase of my life–basically God’s calling on my heart. My precious friend reminded me of this, and when I held the current state of my heart up to the Truth of God’s Word, I was found lacking. It was time for some internal housekeeping in my hurting heart.
We do not always know the impact of our words and actions. Regardless of what people speak into our lives, it us up to us to take what is true and to discard what is not. If we do not do this, the legacy we leave to those around us can be crippled by bitterness, hopelessness and fear. On the flip side, a word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver; it is worth a small fortune and can yield eternal rewards.
First of all, tell three people what you sincerely appreciate about them. Focus on character strengths, not on how they look or what they have accomplished.
Second of all, ask God to help you let go of the residual blechy-ness that people have spoken into your own heart. I once heard that choosing not to forgive is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die. I can attest to the validity of this statement from my own life. Forgiving someone else, even when they do not seek the forgiveness, brings peace and healing.