All of us have someone in our lives who makes us crazy. Whether that person is a menacing co-worker, judgmental parent, or rebellious teenager, it seems nothing helps when it comes to coping with the contrary personalities of people who don’t quite see life the way we do. If we are walking with the Lord and know that someone’s behavior and choices are clearly wrong, we often pray for God to change them so they will be more Christlike and easier to get along with. Then we try countless ways to persuade them to see the error of their ways. But what if they don’t change?
This is a problem that I have struggled with the past four or five years as the parent of a rebellious teenager. Many times I have recalled what it was like to be an adolescent and marvel that my own mother never raised her voice at me the way I have with my son. And she had six of us! When I went through a lengthy season of rebellion in my late teens and early twenties, I don’t even remember her “discussing” my derelict behavior with me, but I know she talked often to God about me. She learned that sometimes only God can change a wayward heart, so she simply prayed for me and left it up to God to fix me.
In his book, Handle with Prayer: Unwrap the Source of God’s Strength for Living, Dr. Charles Stanley writes:
A college student was having trouble getting along with her unsaved father. Regardless of how sweet she was, they just could not get along. She soon found herself becoming bitter. As she prayed, the Lord revealed a strategy to combat her bitterness.
She was to understand that the conflict wasn’t between her and her father but rather between Satan and God. She saw that Satan was using her father as an instrument to overcome the Christ in her.
When she adopted this attitude, things at home began to change. She no longer saw her father as her enemy. On the contrary, she saw for the first time how he really loved her. When conflicts would arise, instead of reacting to her father, she would go to her knees in prayer and deal with the real enemy.
It is so easy to become bitter when our words fall on deaf ears and the person who is clearly wrong doesn’t change. We become angry and self-condemning when others bring out the worst in us, and Satan just loves that! Could it be that we are so caught up trying to change others that we are getting in the way of what God wants to do in their lives? Could it be that the one who truly needs to change is us?
If you are struggling with a difficult relationship right now, get alone with God and pray it through. As much as it is possible, isolate yourself from that individual or simply refuse to engage in an argument by leaving the room or discontinuing a phone conversation. After all, it takes two to tango and nothing is ever solved in a heated debate.
We cannot win others over with God’s love if we allow Satan to quench it in us by arousing our anger toward them. If you feel less than loving toward a family member or close friend, draw near to the One who loves you unconditionally and tell him about your dilemma. Pray for that one you find it so difficult to love. Forgive the hurt they have caused you and ask God to forgive you for whatever hurt you may have caused them. Even if they are too stubborn to make a positive change, don’t you be. Ask God to change you first and fill you with his grace and love so that you can reflect his love to others.
Love your enemies and remember these words from Jesus:
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you falsely and say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Matthew 5:9-12 (NIV)
Copyright © 2012 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved. www.deedeewike.com