Four Things I Do When People Make Me Blue
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!