Here’s a devotional that I shared in the Reader Chat at the beginning of the year.
I have a person that I deal with rather frequently, and I like them. They claim to be a Christian. But there are certain situations I’m in with that person when their whole personality seems to change and I struggle to like them.
I think we all have difficult relationships. Ones where we struggle to be kind and sweet. Where we feel like we’re doing all the giving and the other person just takes. Where they are selfish and self-centered or maybe even a narcissist. We’re neglected, forgotten about, lonely. It doesn’t matter how nice you are to them, they are never going to notice or return your kindness.
So I was thinking this week, God, this hurts. I hate dealing with this person when we’re in this situation together and I just want to bail on this relationship. I’d be so much happier.
I know God doesn’t want me to. He’s made it clear, over and over, that I’m supposed to be a friend to this person. I’m supposed to love them where they are, how they are, with no strings attached. To show the love of God to them.
Ugh. I hurt! I want to quit! I want to go crawl under a rock and lick my wounds.
I really don’t think anyone would blame me, and some “Christian” counselors would actually recommend that I do that.
But God reminded me of some things.
First, He reminded me that if I have my eyes on Jesus, the things of this world fade away. That the hurt is temporary. That I’m working for eternity and not for right now.
Then, I read something that made so much sense to me: God is enough.
God. Is. Enough.
The truth of those words really hit me.
I don’t need this person to love me back. God already does.
I don’t need this person to even like me. God likes me enough for everyone.
I don’t need this person to return my kindness, to act in a way that doesn’t make me feel like I’m some kind of disgusting worm. God knows. God sees. And God will make sure I am taken care of. For now, God wants me to take that treatment and return it with love.
I know, as sure as I’m sitting here, that all I need is God. I don’t need people to be nice to me. I don’t need to be praised or accepted. I don’t need kindness or affection. I don’t need validation or attention. God is enough.
God. Is. Enough.
He’s there, waiting for me to turn to him. Not to the internet. Not to Facebook. Not call up my friends and vent to them. God wants to be enough for me. Everything to me. All I need. All I want. All I crave.
Just think about God’s love. How big it is. How unmeasurable. How beyond my comprehension. I don’t need “self-esteem.” I just need to know who I am in God. I’m everything to Him. So are you. I know. Impossible, right? But, with God, all things are possible. And He loves us that much. Not us. Me. You. Individually. He knows the number of hairs on my head. And yours, too.
So, when that person does those things that hurt, I don’t have to allow him to control me and my reactions or thoughts. I can just smile up into God’s face, focus on my God, being held in His hand, kept under his wings, knowing He loves me more than I can possibly know, knowing my worth is as His child, his love, his precious, redeemed soul. That’s where I find my “self-esteem.” Not in pseudo-psychology, not in how others treat me, not in the praise of man, not in money, or possessions or what I wear or drive or own. Not in anything but God alone.
When we get to eternity, we’ll find out how worthless all those other things are, and we’ll be embarrassed that we based so many of our decisions on getting/keeping/attracting/having them.
It doesn’t matter what the rest of the world thinks of me. Does it?
Think about that. Do you care what other people think of you?? Do you? Be honest.
Now, in light of God and what He thinks, does it matter what anyone else thinks? Does it?
We’re so worried that people might call us fanatics, or make fun of us, or talk about how stupid we are. We get so caught up in getting credit for what we do, looking good, looking smart, making other people like us (I’m not saying you shouldn’t be kind – you should always be kind and thoughtful, etc. I’m saying we focus on how we’re perceived rather than focusing on having our actions stem from a pure heart.) We want everyone to know what we’ve accomplished.
We want to win awards and get accolades and be praised. (I’m thinking of that song – How Do You Like Me Now? That really says what we want, right? To be validated in front of all the naysayers. I know, I love that song, but it’s so unbiblical.)
We do good deeds and want people to know it and be impressed.
That’s it right there: we want to impress people rather than serve God.
I guess Satan wanted to impress rather than serve and look what happened to him.
If…WHEN we start to understand God’s love for us, we’ll think less of ourselves and more about God and what He would want us to do. Eventually, a truly humble person won’t think of themselves at all because they’re so focused on God and others. (That’s the post I wanted to write – how our words can encourage and inspire others. sigh)
The more we know about God, the more we want to know about God. And the Bible clearly tells us that we can know God. (If you seek him, he will be found of you.)
So, I’m fine with that. Okay. Deep breath. But I can’t stop thinking about how selfish and self-centered this person is! It bothers me!!! My heart is hurting and I want it to stop!!
So, I was asking God, please, just make the pain stop. Or show me how to let go of the things I can’t change so I’m not focusing on them anymore.
And that’s when God reminded me of these verses:
Great peace have they which love thy law; and nothing shall offend them. Psalm 119:165
Now, this verse could be talking about not keeping the law – if I love God’s law, nothing is going to keep me from keeping it.
But I think the way I’m looking at it also applies – If I love God’s law (when you love something, you think about it a lot, can’t want to hang out with it and find out as much as you can about it, right?) then nothing – including people – will offend me.
Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee. Isaiah 26:3
Again, if my mind is focused on God, on loving him, doing his will, memorizing and reading His Word, then I’m not going to get upset. (Not nervous, not anxious, not overcome with sadness or anger, and definitely not hurt or offended or humiliated.)
For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he. Proverbs 23:7
I love this verse and I use it for myself a lot. This is one of those verses that just says to me – the world is your oyster, what do you want to be? Well, I want to be kind, thoughtful, considerate, steadfast, faithful, generous, loving. I want to have kind, TRUE words to say about everyone. I want to be patient, longsuffering…Oh. Yeah. Longsuffering. Willing to suffer for a long time if necessary.
So, in my heart, I need to figure out how I’m going to think, so that my actions become what I want to be.
For this person, I have to remind myself that they need to see God’s love. That the pain is temporary, but the rewards are eternal. That maybe they hurt people because they are hurting. Maybe they’ve never had a faithful friend. Maybe God has something he wants to do in their life, and He needs me to support and love them no matter what. That God will give me the strength to do what He wants me to do.
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Phillipians 4:8
And this verse makes it clear that everything I’ve just been trying to do is a command – we’re to focus and think on the positive. This means people. We find the good in them and we make that our focus of our thoughts. What you think about expands. Think about the good stuff.
…bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; II Corinthians 10:5
This verse tells me it’s possible. That, no matter what my emotional state is, it is possible to control my thoughts. Our loving and benevolent and always good God would never give us a command we can’t keep.
It’s truly amazing how free (the truth shall make you free) you can be when you stop worrying, keeping track of hurts and wrongs, thinking about what you want to get out of a relationship and how you’re not being treated right, and focus instead on how God is enough. Focus on drawing close to God, loving Him, having a relationship with Him. When we make God our focus, the things of this world lose their power over us.
The more we think about God, the less we think about ourselves, the more we realize that God is enough. For me. For everyone. For anything.
Have a beautiful weekend!
Hugs and love,