Peace family, what can we do when we are surrounded by negative people? What solutions from God can help us when people react to our kindness with cruelty?
I recently had a conversation with someone in which I offered some help for a problem they had mentioned, and they proceeded to not only tell me that it wouldn’t work, but to explain to me why it wouldn’t work, in words that made me feel as though they looked at me as a child. All I could say was, “Ok, thanks for letting me know. I was just trying to help,” to which they replied that they were just trying to teach me basic physics, making me feel further put down (as an aside, teaching me is not this person’s job.)
I walked away from that conversation, and the next thing I knew, I was in a second negative conversation. This person asked me what food I was burning (I wasn’t burning anything), and I tried to get the conversation onto something positive, asking them if they had anything coming up in their life that they are excited about. I complimented them in a way that they deflected, and when I showed enthusiasm for the thing they had said was coming up, they laughed at me and said it actually wasn’t that good.
Neither of these were huge deals, but by the end of these two conversations, I was feeling pretty disheartened!
Peace family, what can we do when people respond to our kindness with cruelty? How can we keep our confidence when we feel disrespected, devalued, and talked down to?
First, we can remember that God loves us. No matter how someone treats you, He loves and values you! You don’t get your value or acceptance from other people. You are valuable because God values you.
Next, we can remember that these people might be hurting. We don’t know what all else is going on in someone’s life, but God loves them. We can pray for them, and we can forgive them. Do I enjoy it when people’s actions towards me indicate that they believe I am incompetent, or that my feelings, thoughts, and even tastes or personality are not valid? Of course not! But I have inherent value in Christ, no matter who does or doesn’t recognize it. Psalm 118:6 says, “The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?”(NIV)
Finally, we have a choice. We can choose to take others’ negativity personally and tell ourselves that their treatment of us is because they don’t like us (on account that it’s because I am young, because I am a woman, because I am this race, or any other number of things we can pick apart about ourselves,) or we can choose to let the responsibility for the behavior rest with them, because the problem is probably their issue.
The Bible says that out of the well of a person’s heart, whatever is stored up will come out, whether that’s good or bad. If we have enough goodness of God stored up in our hearts, then the negativity of others will not affect us so much.
Finally, we can take a deep breath, and assess ourselves. Am I more tired than usual today? Am I upset, feeling vulnerable, or stressed about something else that might be making this person’s treatment of me bother me more than it usually might? Have I been unable to really think about and absorb the love that God has for me, lately? If so, let’s give grace to that person, and also to ourselves. Let’s set some time aside to really dwell on how much God loves and values us, and how much more important his opinion is that anyone else’s opinion of us. Let’s choose kind responses, even if we don’t want to be kind, and let’s trust that God is in control.