Thursday, March 14, 2013

But I Just Don't Like Her...

God's Words:

It is a sin to despise one’s neighbor, but blessed is the one who is kind to the needy.
 ~Proverbs 14:21

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
~Colossians 3:12-14

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
~Galatians 5:22-23a

"Love your neighbor as yourself."
~Matthew 22:39b

"She's a nice person...  Other people seem to like her so I'm sure she must have plenty of friends.  And she's never said or done anything bad to me...ever.  I just don', I just don't like her.  Honestly, she drives me crazy.  But, oh no, here she comes!  How can I look preoccupied so I won't have to talk to her?  Or, wait, even better...where is the nearest escape route?!?"

Have you ever experienced a similar thought process about someone you just don't like?  It's not at all that you feel hatred toward them or any emotion to that extreme.  And they may not have ever done anything bad to you to earn your disfavor.  You just simply do not like him or her.  You can't help the feeling of displeasure that comes over you while being around them.  They just annoy you.  Bother you.  Get on your nerves.  You see them heading your way and you immediately cringe inside.  And then you feel horribly guilty at the same time for feeling that way about them.

I think everyone knows a person they wish they didn't know.  At least one.  Come on, be honest here.  I bet there is someone that immediately popped into your mind when you started reading this post.  Someone who rubs you the wrong way and you really cannot seem to help how you feel about them.  

And what about when your child doesn't want to play with another child at school or in the neighborhood - for no particular reason other than he just doesn't like the other child?  How do we as parents guide our children to handle this kind of sticky social situation when we ourselves have people in our lives that we don't like and try to avoid?

Or worse yet...  Maybe it's you that feels disliked by someone and you can't, for the life of you, figure out why.  You're just being yourself and you're always kind and polite to them, but you get the feeling that they would rather be with anyone but you.  And that they even try to avoid you.  But you don't dare ask what's wrong because deep down you can guess why and it would kill you to know the real reason - that maybe they just don't like you.  Bad, bad feeling.   Why would someone not like me?  I'm a fun, compassionate, helpful person with a great sense of humor...or at least I think so, of course!

This is definitely a difficult subject.  One that I wasn't even sure I should write about.  Who wants to admit they don't like someone for no "good" reason?  Not me.  But at the same time, I've always wondered what the Bible says about whether we have to like people or not.  So I took it upon myself to find out and share with you what I learned, just in case you, too, struggle with not liking a person for no "good" reason.

How does God want us to deal with people we don't like?  I mean, Christians are supposed to love everyone, right?  Yes, of course, the Bible is filled with commands to love every person just as we love ourselves (for example, see Christ's words in Matthew 22:39b above).  Including our enemies and those who hate or mistreat us.  But I'm not referring to those meanies right now.  I've already written about how to deal with people like that in this post.

Today I'm strictly talking about the people who utterly annoy us, even though they most likely (and hopefully!) have no clue we see them that way.  They're really, truly just being themselves...their own irksome, aggravating, bothersome selves.  They probably can't help being the way they are, just like we can't help being the way we are.  But they grate on our nerves, regardless.  Our personalities merely do not "click".  What about them?  And how do we want people who don't necessarily like us to treat us?

I believe we most definitely need to learn how to handle this type of personality conflict in a way that pleases and glorifies God.  Of course we are called by God to love them.  We already know that's a given.  But I have asked myself many times in my life as I've come across people that bug me for whatever reason - do I have to like them?  Do I have to somehow force myself to find pleasure in their company?  When in all honesty, I simply cannot find much to like about them because I can't get over the way(s) they irritate me?  Sounds harsh, doesn't it?  I feel like a meanie just writing all of this!

There are so many different types of people out there, with so many dissimilar personalities, senses of humor, and quirks.  I think this vast array of diverseness wonderfully attests to God's glory in how He has created human beings - His most precious creation.  We are all made in His image, though so very different.  And that is a good thing, don't you agree?  Wouldn't the world be a dull, boring place if everyone was the same?

Yet sometimes the ways in which we are different can actually become sources of annoyance or dislike among us.  Not everyone has to be chummy, buddy-buddy with everyone else, right?  So although I do not conclude that it's necessarily sinful to not enjoy someone's company or to not desire to be their closest friend, I do believe that sin comes into play when we react in a bad way to the person we don't happen to like.

In the first key verse for this post, God's Word says it is a sin to despise someone.  Despise means to look down on with contempt or aversion, to regard as unworthy of one's notice or consideration; an emotional response ranging from strong dislike to loathing.  Wow, pretty strong words there.  The definition of despising someone sounds horrible, doesn't it?

So if I dislike someone so much that I feel as if I actually despise them, then that is wrong of me.  What I've found very helpful when facing people that get on my nerves is to make an effort (and sometimes it seems to take a huge amount of effort) to see them through the eyes of their Creator, who loves them so much that He gave up His own Son to die to save them (John 3:16), knows the exact number of hairs on their head (Luke 12:7), and watches over and cares for every little detail of their life (Psalm 139).  If God loves them that much, then the very least I can do is show them a loving respect and care.  Even though I might not revel in their company.  

And that is also why Jesus called us to love our neighbor as ourselves.  How do we want to be treated by people that might not exactly adore us?  With respect, kindness, compassion, gentleness,  Yes, even love.  Hmmm, sound familiar?  Sounds a lot like the second and third key verses for this Bible study.  If we are in Christ, we have His Holy Spirit's power at work in and through us to be able to treat people - any and all people, regardless of how annoying they might be - in a loving way that is kind, respectful, patient, etc.  Just as we want to be treated by others.

God promises to give us what we stand in need of to literally bear with that irksome person in our lives and all their abrasive ways.  No, we don't have to delight in their personality, but we do have to treat them in a loving way, no matter what.  And the good news here, dear readers, is that if we ask for God's help in this, we just might find ourselves becoming less annoyed, less bothered, less aggravated.  The Spirit will help us see them through Jesus' eyes of unconditional love.  Maybe even to the point where we can't remember why we disliked them so much!  Is it even possible?

Give it a try!  Start praying today for God's help in finding the beauty and admirable qualities He sees in someone you don't like very much.  Then just wait and see what happens in your heart!  I can tell you from personal experience that it is possible and both you and that formerly-avoided person will be the better for it!  Believe it or not, you just might find a new friend...

In Christ,


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