You have caused pain, others have caused you pain — to consider otherwise would be ridiculous. Most of the anxiety in our lives is caused by people: siblings, roommate, spouse, co-worker, family, friends, boss, employees. People and relationships are what bring the quality of life and fulfillment we long for. But they also create hostility that robs our peace and causes internal turmoil. We have a lot of different types of relationships that could pull us to the left or right so, we need a focal point.
There are so many different types of relationships and people are all so different — that makes them difficult. My wife is amazing and I love her with all my heart, but we are different. She loves to fix her hair and come up with amazing outfits to wear from Pinterest. I am a messy eater and think that smelling like fish is a good thing. She wants to talk and “share.” She loves to share late at night, I like to sleep late at night! While we were dating in college, we were having one of those lovey cutesy late night talks on the phone and I fell asleep! She had to call one of the guys in the dorm to have him come hang up my phone! I still laugh when I think about that story.
God puts us in a neighborhood, at a job, in a church with different people with different personalities. To add to that, we live in a fallen world, full of hurting people. Hurting on the inside and inflicting pain on others, even those we care about. It can be pretty rough. On the flip side, relationships are how God uses us to express love and acceptance to others. Because they can be used by God, the devil attempts to use them to cause pain. We need to continue to remember what the Bible says in Ephesians 6:12, “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.”
The story of Joseph in Genesis 37, 39-50 is riddled with jealousy, resentment, hatred and lying. None of which are Godly. Joseph’s brothers show all these in Genesis 37:20: “Come on, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns. We can tell our father, ‘A wild animal has eaten him.’ Then we’ll see what becomes of his dreams!” In reading this verse, we can see our battle is not against people. It’s not against your boss, spouse, parent or sibling — our enemy is the devil. The devil wants to bring confusion, miscommunication, have us develop unrealistic expectations of others that all lead to resentment and bitterness in our relationships. Joseph had to endure 13 years of difficulty and betrayal from bad relationships. Despite EVERYTHING he went through, Joseph still clings to The Lord as his focal point. There might be bitterness around you or even directed at you but it does NOT have to be in you!
When I’m frustrated with anyone, I remind myself, “I am not so perfect either.” And if someone does anything against me that could cause pain or harm I will admit, “I’ve done that!” “I’ve said that!” I’ve been unnecessarily overly sarcastic, negative, spiteful, insensitive, brash and cut people off in traffic! “I’ve done that.”
In dealing with the difficulties that may come with relationships, we can be people of true character! Stand our ground and love without limits. Keep healthy boundaries and be generous with forgiveness. Regardless of difficulties others may cause keep God as our focal point! You can do this!
Pastor Aaron Olinski
Grace Church Melbourne