Thursday, 23 December 2010

Find a Few Difficult People to Help You Grow

In his book The Me I Want to Be, John Ortberg points out that other people don’t create our spirit; they reveal our spirit. He goes on to say, “In fact, if God wants to grow some quality in you, he may send you a person who tempts you to behave in just the opposite way.” If you need patience God might bring someone into your life that triggers your impatience. If you need to be more forgiving He may send someone into your life who requires much forgiveness. This may be the same person; it may even be your spouse.

At this point you might be asking, “Why does God allow difficult people in my life”. Ortberg’s answer – what other kind are there? So then you might ask, “Is there a plan ‘B’? Or, couldn’t I just join a support group?” Just remember you may be the difficult person that God is using to grow someone else.

One reaction to people who push our buttons is to want to “fix” them, to make them more like ourselves. What we need to realize is that we are incapable of fixing or changing another person. We may have some influence when it comes to changing someone’s behavior but ultimately only God can touch the deepest part of another person. So in some manner of speaking God stands between you and the person who is a “life-drainer”. A Life-drainer is a person who adds to your anxiety, invites you to cynicism or contributes to you becoming defensive or exasperated.

Here are some random thoughts for dealing with the difficult person:
• Ask yourself what is going on inside of me? Why does this person trigger this negative reaction in me? Are you jealous or envious? Are you seeking control? Is this really about the kingdom of you – your needs, your wants and your desires?
• Pray to be able to forgive the person. Pray that the Lord will reveal to you why He has brought them into your life and what He may be seeking to change in you? Pray that if you can be of help to the person that God will guide your thoughts, words and actions.
• We can remember that God brought this person into our life for a specific purpose.
• We can display empathy. We can take the time to imagine what they may be going through. We can ask what would help them become the best version of themselves. And in turn you may become the best version of yourself.

This is one way of interpreting what Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ’Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you… If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.”

Merry Christmas!

Monday, 20 December 2010

Forgiving As God Does

In his book Marriage Matters, Winston Smith suggests that we should “embrace what Jesus has done for us and extend that in thought, word, and deed to others. This is the essence of forgiveness.

You are not forgiving the other person because they deserve it. You are doing it because you have been forgiven much. And if you need a more self-centered reason it is because if you withhold forgiveness it will eat at you like a cancer.

Smith goes on to say, “Think about forgiveness in terms of four basic decisions that reflect the way God forgives us.”

1. God decided to release us from the penalty of our sin. Just as God does not dwell on our sin or bring it to His mind, we are to refuse to dwell on how we have been wronged by our spouse.
2. God decided to sacrifice in order to forgive. God decided to absorb the cost of our sin. Repairing the relationship means accepting the wound and choosing to draw near to the one who has harmed you. God does not seek revenge or look for opportunities to pay us back, nor should we look for a way to get back.
3. God decided to accomplish good even through our sinfulness. God doesn’t just forgive our sins, he promises to use even our worst failures to do good in our lives and in our relationship with him. When we forgive our spouses we trust God will work for our good and the good of our marriage.
4. God decided to allow us to grow. God didn’t simply forgive us once and place us on eternal probation. He knows we will continue to battle with sin even as He helps us to grow. Likewise, it is important to remember that when we forgive our spouses they will not become perfect. Their failure will not be a once and done event. As we allow them to grow our ability to forgive also grows.
Forgiving means that we refuse to bring up the matter again in a harmful way. It means that we don’t gossip about the issue with friends and family. Your decision to forgive is a decision to do everything you can to keep the incident from standing between you and your spouse. Perhaps above all it is a conscious decision to trust that God is up to good.