"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

Four Things I Do When People Make Me Blue

Life is all about relationships. Relationships with people are as risky as they are beautiful. The people you and I love are seemingly capable of hurting us the most. Over the course of a lifetime of experiencing both helpful and hurtful relationships, I've learned a few things that help me when I'm in the middle of a rocky relationship with a friend or loved one.

I will focus on the trouble within me.

Every external action by me is the result of an internal reaction in me. I can't control the thoughts, actions, perceptions, or character of others I love, but I can trust the promise that "Jesus, who began a good work in me, will carry it on to completion" (Philippians 1:7). The problem I face is a heart problem, and the Great Physician is the only One who can give me a heart change. I am by nature selfish, vain, indulgent, and deceitful. Jesus alone can change me internally into a selfless, humble, disciplined, and transparent person. It requires the grace of God to transform me from what I am by my nature into what I am becoming by His grace. My focus needs to be on the trouble within me and the only Hope I have for real change. When I am only focused on the problems I perceive in others, I am never moving toward any real and lasting solutions for me.

I will believe the truth about me.

The world in which I live sends me all kinds of messages about me that are not true. When I am rejected for my poor performance, I am sent the message "People who perform are the only ones worth accepting." When I am abandoned because of the struggles occurring within me, the message sent is, "People who are perfect are the only ones worth loving." As long as I look to the world for the messages about me, I will never find true happiness or satisfaction. Like the Apostle Paul I must come to the place where I believe "I am what I am by the grace of God" (I Corinthians 15:10).  Until I understand that the only thing worth believing about me is what the One who created me thinks of me, I will never find true soul satisfaction and happiness. So, what is it that is true about me by the grace of God in Jesus? I am loved. I am forgiven. I am accepted. I am guided. I am blessed. I am ... all this and more by the grace of God. That's the truth about me, and that is who I am - regardless of what others say. And, by the way, if others don't think this about me, that's not my problem. My problem is the internal need to have others think good things about me instead of depending solely on what Jesus thinks.

I will pass the test before me.

Uh-oh. I hate tests. Hate them. What test am I talking about? It's this one: "You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free" (John 8:32).  How free am I really? This is the test.  How free am I from having to depend upon the actions, words, or moods of others for my happiness? How free am I from the need to manipulate and control people to do what I need in order to feel good about myself or my situation? How free am I to live life and love people regardless of the choices that other people make? Freedom is a result of truth. When I am focused on the trouble within me, refusing to believe my problems are the people around me, and when I believe the truth about me as Jesus declares it, then I pass the freedom test. When I fail the test, I am known for the bondage I create. I put people in bondage through my deceptive manipulations and selfish control. I put myself in bondage by worrying and fretting over what people are thinking about me or perceiving of me. So I must ask:  Are the people I love free to be _____? (fill in the blank). Or, am I creating bondage by manipulating and controlling people to make them  _______?  (fill in the blank).  When I can't pass the test of freedom I am not focusing on the problem within me nor I am believing the truth about me.

I will rejoice in the trials around me.

There's a huge difference between 'enjoy' and 'rejoice.' My tribulations are not always enjoyable (sometimes they suck big time), but in every affliction I can rejoice! Rejoice is a choice. "I will rejoice in my tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about ... character!" (Romans 5:3). Every trial that comes my way is not caused by Jesus, but Jesus guarantees me that He 'orchestrates' all things for my good (Romans 8:28). Jesus is not so much interested in my pleasure or comfort as He is my personal character. Remember that trouble that is within me? My character is such that I am a needy, greedy and often seedy individual that Jesus (by His grace) is transforming into a loving, giving and serving character who looks a lot like Him. "And we all (we Jesus followers) ... are being transformed into His image" (II Corinthians 3:18). It's definitely a work in progress, but when I do these four things during difficulties in a human relationship, I keep the emphasis where it needs to be - on God doing a work in me!


David Tinker said...

Reminds of Habakkuk. I heard one preacher call it the OT "Book of Joy". At first glance, this would seem to be puzzling. But, that's because we have a skewed understanding of true joy, and true rejoicing.

Bob Cleveland said...

It's ALWAYS about our reactions.

I too rejoice in the Old Testament. Knowing from what He has said that even the hairs on my head are numbered ....

I take comfort in Job's story. Not only was satan unable to do anything to him unless God consented, we then must realize it was God who brought job to satan's attention, not the other way around. When I consider the comfort that has been brought to, ostensibly, millions by that story, I'm sure Job would say today that it was more than worth it.

Not only that, but the OT tells us that He made ALL THINGS for His own purposes .. Proverbs 16:4 ... and that includes the person who rightly or wrongly confronts me.

Add to that the fact that Jesus told Habakkuk that HE was raising up the Babylonians for His purposes, a thought so radical He warned Habakkuk in advance that he was unlikely to believe it.

God also promised Abraham that He would be The God of him and his seed, and Galatians 3:29 tells me I'm that. I am God's and He's my God. He promised that.

He told me not to fear and worry about such a myriad of things, I can't count them all; but the ultimate promise is that He said every day of mine was numbered before Thursday, May 12, 1938.

I cannot do anything to help God. Not in the least. But He has invited me to join Him in what He is doing here. How can there be a greater promise or challenge or privilege or honor, than that?

That's why I titled my book ... a sort of memoir of everything I could remember, "In The Foreword Of The Book Of Life". His expressions of appreciation for my life is all I'll ever need.

You need to speak to the Captcha folks. So help me, scout's honor, the graphic on my screen is "666". Oh well ... here goes, anyway

Curious Thinker said...

Beautifully said. I too struggle to transform myself by turning away from some of my flaws for the better relying on God's help.

Austin Al said...

I found this post powerfully helpful and encouraging. Thanks!

Victorious said...

I nearly always learn something from your posts, Wade. But once in awhile I get confused because one seems (in my mind) to contradict another one.

I hope you won't mind if I ask, then, how is this not "introspection?"


I'm not trying to be difficult or challenging, just trying to understand.

As always, thank you for your insights into relationships and for sharing them.

Mary Ann

Wade Burleson said...


Great question - At first glance it would seem very contradictory.

In the post (today), I am attempting to help people stop controlling, manipulating or faulting other people for their problems.

In the post to which you refer, I am attempting to help those who recognize that THEY ARE the problem to not be discouraged - because "He who began a good work in you WILL CARRY IT ON to completion."

Two different purposes for writing, but love your perceptive reading.

Victorious said...


Ahh...ok. I see the difference in your intent. Now I'll have to read both again with that in mind.

Thanks for explaining!

Christiane said...

"I have been crucified with Christ;
and it is no longer I who live,
but Christ lives in me . . . "

(from Galatians 2:20)

Lee Enochs said...

Very good word Pastor Wade!

Gordon said...


These are very practical and helpful scriptural ways of dealing with the situation of strained relationships.

May I add number 5 ?

"I will remember that temptations are sent by Satan to buffet me ".(See Job and Paul).

Satan has always been the accuser and deceiver of mankind to divert us from our calling and to disturb our peace. He uses the 'recall psychologists' to make unfounded accusations and to transfer guilt onto parents or partners . He uses the power of suggestion to create false memories and exaggerated hurts.

The answer to the wiles of the Devil?

"My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness " (2 Cor 12: 8-10) NLT

"Put on the whole armor of God" (Ephesians 6:11)

Christiane said...

I loved these words:
" How free am I to live life and love people regardless of the choices that other people make?"

I think the heavy burden most of us carry from the disapprobation of others can be set down at the Cross;
from there, we are set free to compassionately care for those whose condemnation previously controlled our responses to them.

a reflection from 'Vultus Christi' blog:
‘On us He hath set His heart’:
” “Come to Me, all you who labour and are heavy laden”
“and I will refresh you” (Mt 11:28).
No crushing deity here.
No annihilating power.
Here lies bare the weakness of Love
and the meekness of one Humble unto death.
Love waits not for our gaze alone
but for the “Yes” of hearts already claimed by Love.
On us He hath set his heart,
the Pierced One, the Victim and the Priest.
Amen, Alleluia.”

The Blog bites better than the Bullet. said...

This is encouraging. Thank you!

Pastor Mark said...


Just what this Wyoming Pastor needed to read today:)

Thank you!

Pastor Mark:)