Expectations. Expectations that someone has for who they think you should be. But it doesn’t mesh with who you really are. I am not talking about sin issues here but opinion issues. Choices people make differently because God made them differently. And yet, because you might not make a choice the way someone else makes it, you are judged.
I have struggled through this recently with someone in my life who wants me to be someone I just am NOT. And I have struggled greatly with how to handle this (just for clarity’s sake, I am not talking about my husband here although we both do sometimes expect things of each other that we shouldn’t).
My first reaction was the desire to just start yelling at them. I mean HOW DARE THEY criticize ME? Don’t I have the right to be the person God made me? Fortunately, I did not choose to follow through with the yelling! But bitterness and frustration did start to grow in my very soul. My next reaction was to write a letter and yes, I did write it–with full intention of giving it. Thankfully, I did not follow through with that, either.
But then I went running. It helps me release my frustration and it helps me to think. And, as I was enjoying the beautiful day, my thoughts turned to this situation. I started thinking about how I should respond to this situation in a godly way. How would God want me to react?
First, I have to turn away from bitterness. When the thoughts come that cause anger and bitterness and the thoughts start spiraling downward (you know what I mean) I have got to stop them. I need to conscientiously choose to think godly thoughts. Sure, it’s hard. It’s hard like getting a root canal is hard. But if you don’t do it, you pay serious consequences later. I don’t want to have rotten teeth OR grow into a bitter old woman. And that is what happens when you get angry and dwell on things that seem unfair (or when you don’t fix your teeth!)
Second, I have to take an honest look at myself and really determine if the comments have truth to them. Would I be a better person if I did “A, B, or C”? If I would be, then I need to swallow my pride and take some steps to improve some things (and, yes, in this case, there are some things I need to work on). And then, I need to just let the other things roll off my back. Just roll away, never to be thought about again. Okay, that might be pushing it. Memories have a tricky way of remembering unkind things people have said about you. But I at least need to make the effort not to dwell on them.
Jesus makes it clear that we are to love our enemies (Matthew 5:43-44). Now if I am supposed to love my enemies and bless those who curse me then how can I grow bitter against this person who is truly not my enemy but just someone who thinks they should decide who I am supposed to be?
Sometimes the Bible is like a surgeon’s knife in my soul cutting away diseased tissue. I guess there is a verse about that, isn’t there? (Hebrews 4:12) Oh, how far I have to go yet in this spiritual walk. Always learning and mostly I am learning that there is a lot I haven’t learned!