ALTERNATE TITLE: HOW TO SURVIVE WEIRD PEOPLE!
Let’s just be honest. We all have difficult people in our lives, don’t we? More than likely if you don’t have one, you are one. On top of that every family has at least one chestnut roasting on the open fire and a jack frost or two who is going to be nipping at more than everyone’s noses. You may be able to stay clear of these people for most of the year but at the holidays you are going to be thrust into the same room with weird Uncle Joe.
Here are some simple suggestions to hopefully help you achieve a measure of relational happiness this year:
1. The first step toward relational harmony is to focus on their positive qualities.
Even though your difficult person might be totally opposite from you in terms of preferences and pattern for doing life, they bring something positive to the table. In fact, they just may have a quality or two that could be lacking in your own character.
If they’re organized and you’re laid back, you could probably learn something from them about being more disciplined. (Of course, for that to happen you’ve got to have a teachable spirit). Maybe your difficult person is very spontaneous and you’re always in a rut. That rubs you the wrong way but, truthfully, in a lot of situations, it’s better to be spontaneous than in a rut. Maybe they could help you.
The Bible teaches this principle this way:
Suppose the whole body were an eye–then how would you hear? Or if your whole body were just one big ear, how could you smell anything? But God made our bodies with many parts, and he has put each part just where he wants it. What a strange thing a body would be if it had only one part! … The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.” 1 Corinthians 12:17-21 [NLT]
In other words, in the same way that each part of the human body, on its own, is incomplete … each person on their own is incomplete.
That person who is so hard for you to relate to is making a positive contribution somewhere. That’s step one on the road to relational harmony.
2. I won’t lie to you, step two is hard: Give up the right to be right.
There is a sign outside a mental hospital in California that says, “Do you want to be right or do you want to be well?” Let me rephrased that thought a little, “Do you want to be right or do you want to be happy?”
Getting along with people, especially with people who see things differently than we do, requires us to choose happiness over rightness. It requires us to give people the freedom to be wrong. The Bible puts it this way:
Welcome with open arms fellow believers who don’t see things the way you do. And don’t jump all over them every time they do or say something you don’t agree with–even when it seems that they are strong on opinions but weak in the faith department. Remember, they have their own history to deal with. Treat them gently. Romans 14:1 [Msg]
Let me ask you: in your dealings with the difficult people around you how much of the strain is caused by you having to be right? What if you decided that your goal wasn’t to convince that person, but to love that person?
So, focus on positive qualities, give up the right to be right and finally …
3. Realize that “different” people are also “dearly loved” people – by God.
He created them, just like he created you. And not only did he create them, He also loved them enough to die for their sins on the cross, just as he did for yours. Why?
… God our Savior showed us his kindness and love. He saved us, not because of the good things we did, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins and gave us a new life through the Holy Spirit. Titus 3:4-5 [NLT]
Jesus died for difficult people and as hard as it is to swallow, we all fit in this category from time to time. He did this not because we deserved it … not because we are normal … not because of any other reason than the fact that we are dearly loved by him. And that makes us valuable.
I think it would help us a lot in our relationships with others if we could remember this, if we could remember that we’re dealing with someone for whom God put his Son’s life on the line.
So, let me ask you …
That person or persons who’ve been in your mind since you started reading this … what do you need to do about them?
Maybe you need to make a little prayer out of that verse we read earlier. “God, you give patience and encouragement. Help me and this other person to live in complete harmony with each other …” Let me assure you that is a prayer God wants to answer.
Maybe you need to sit down and make a list of positive qualities about this person and start complementing them on those things, start blessing them in those areas. That will have an amazing effect on them.
Maybe you need to say to yourself, “it’s OK if this person is wrong. I won’t die if they don’t let me be right.” You’ll sleep a lot better at night and the tension level in the relationship will immediately start to drop.
Maybe you need to get a vision of that person’s value in God’s eyes. Maybe you need to get a vision of your own value in God’s eyes.
You will get an opportunity to use this during the holidays. These suggestions, however simple, will work to help make the season bright which is my wish for you this year.