Ever had one of those friendships that you both love and hate? You know, you love the person dearly, but the relationship is tough. Perhaps the friendship is one-sided with you providing most of the effort, or perhaps the person is drama-filled and is constantly dragging their mess into your life. What do you do with these kind of people? Do you speak up and say something?
These are tough situations that absolutely require a lot of prayerful consideration. And author, Life Coach, and friend Sherry Gareis is here today to help us figure out what to do with those joy-draining, tension-causing, every-silver-lining-has-a-cloud kind of friends in your life. Sherry…
They say they do. They complain. They want sympathy. They play the victim, but they really don’t want to fix things… or change.
In all fairness, I’m talking about the majority of people I’ve come in contact with. There are absolutely those who eagerly seek out solutions and put forth genuine effort to better themselves. These are my FAVORITE coaching clients and the ones who make incredible progress. These are the people I love to surround myself with. They are inspirational and impressive.
There are also those who are paralyzed by fear or other deep rooted emotional hindrances and simply can’t move forward. My heart aches for these hurting souls and I pray prayers of hope and help for them. This is often a very dark place to be and it can be difficult to see through the blackness.
But for today, my candid, hard hitting and realistic side is determined to focus on and expose the ill-intentioned, energy sucking, emotion draining, dishonest, lazy, whining problem people for who they are.
And WHY do I feel compelled to uncover these frauds? Do I hate them? Am I angry? Bitter?
Surprisingly, NO – Not at all! Years ago my answer would have been different, but now my heart hurts for them JUST as much as it does the other hurting souls I pray for. They are lost. Deceived. Broken. And this just makes me sad.
So you see my objective is not to pummel the problem people, but instead to speak truth in love to the people negatively impacted BY them. I believe if you grow awareness, self-confidence, and self-esteem, you will, in turn, produce healthy, Godly choices and THIS is what motivates me!
See if you can relate to this situation:
Your friend is sharing with you, for the fifth time, a difficult circumstance they’re dealing with at work. You’ve been a compassionate listener and loving friend. You observe that the complaints are oddly familiar and mirror other situations this person often seems to be dealing with. It’s time to pull the trigger and speak up. While not attempting to ‘fix’ the problem, you play devil’s advocate and offer some possible insight from the other side of the fence. You guide with constructive feedback and share some potential solutions. As you do this your friend gazes in your direction, but appears to look above you, or off to the side. When you’re finished speaking, your friend either picks up EXACTLY where they left off without missing a beat, oblivious to EVERYTHING you have said, or begins their retort with, “Yeah, but…”
This person is NOT interested in solutions.
How about this?
You’ve been a good friend. Not perfect, since none of us are, but good. Loving, kind, compassionate, reasonable, approachable and genuine. Your friend is upset with you but instead of approaching you directly, this person tells EVERYONE ELSE about their issue with you before ever confronting you. Or worse yet, they take to the social media airwaves and voice their complaints. Whether or not they specifically implicate you isn’t the point. They are having a one-sided conversation, looking for sympathy and support and guess what?
This person is NOT interested in solutions.
You know you’ve offended a family member, but you have no idea why. This person isn’t very forthcoming with information. You ask repeatedly what’s wrong, feeling much like a human can opener. Finally you’re thrown a bone and some indication of the problem is shared with you. Whether right or wrong, you apologize and attempt to repair the damage. You really try your best, but no matter what you do, it just doesn’t seem good enough. It finally dawns on you.
This person is NOT interested in solutions.
People who are not interested in solutions are, as my husband calls them,’Joy Stealers’. They will rob you of your precious time, energy, peace, and of course, joy. Our personal resources are not infinite and we must guard them carefully.
There are many reasons why people behave this way but here are some examples of what I’ve personally encountered (and unfortunately dished out myself) over the years:
- They haven’t been equipped with problem solving tools and don’t recognize the need or importance for them.
- Their relationship with ‘you’, the person at the heart of their strife, isn’t as important as they have led you to believe and they aren’t terribly concerned with losing you.
- They are lazy. It’s far easier to complain than it is to put the work in to fix something, ESPECIALLY relationships.
- They feel justified in their anger, bitterness, pain, etc., and believe their offender deserves whatever they get.
- They’re addicted to drama and thrive on being consumed with it. They love being the center of attention and will do whatever it takes to get it. These people will put a negative spin on things, focus on petty issues, make mountains out of molehills, and if there isn’t anything to talk or complain about, they’ll make something up!
- They’re being intentionally nasty and divisive to inflict pain and suffering. This is frequently born from insecurity or jealousy issues.
If someone doesn’t have your best interests at heart, or the best interests of others around them, it may be time for you to WALK AWAY.
We’re programmed, especially as Christians, to be so tolerance minded that we’ve become reluctant to stand up for ourselves or speak truth. Unfortunately, this is the opposite of what God expects from us:
“Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” (Proverbs 13:20)
“One who is righteous is a guide to his neighbor, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.” (Proverbs 12:26)
“Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” (1 Corinthians 15:33)
“Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him, who is the head, into Christ…” (Ephesians 4:15)
HOW Should You Respond?
- Pray for them. There is NEVER a situation where prayer is not an appropriate response.
- Remove yourself from the path of destruction. If you feel you’ve made a reasonable effort to speak loving truth into the person’s life, difficult decisions have to be made.
- Guard yourself against developing a hard heart. It’s easy for hurtful situations to breed this condition but a hard heart is never justified. Building walls and keeping ALL people out is not the answer.
- Continue to show kindness. Do good works! If you bump into this person, be friendly. You don’t have to overdo it, but behave in obedience by sharing God’s love and protecting your witness. Realize that you can shine God’s light regardless of the circumstances. And remember, this isn’t about being aggressive or retaliating, but instead, about protecting yourself in a Godly manner.
- Extend Forgiveness. Forgiving doesn’t just benefit the person who offended you, but it’s also a gift you give yourself. When you forgive, you aren’t condoning what happened. Instead, you are obediently following what God asks of you and decluttering the negative emotions which will weigh you down.
- Embrace Healing. People can change, and if you see and feel God has done a work of healing in this person’s life, recognize it. Perhaps your time apart was just for a season….or maybe not, but listen for God’s direction.
Is all of this a lot to ask? Even in spite of our humanness, NO, I don’t think it’s a lot to ask, but it can be challenging to carry out.
I’ve learned some tough lessons along the way and I pray they might help you.
- I’ve learned not to hold on to something that shouldn’t be kept.
- I’ve learned to accept that not everyone is going to like me. Ouch.
- I’ve learned that God doesn’t call me to endure life as a doormat.
- I’ve learned I must declutter the harmful to make more room for the good stuff.
- I’ve learned being angry is a huge waste of time and bitterness will eat me alive.
- I’ve learned I’m just as big of a sinner as my neighbor.
- I’ve learned to ask for forgiveness from those I’ve offended and offer forgiveness to those who have offended me.
- I’ve learned walking away can be very,very painful.
- I’ve learned that with God’s grace and provision, I will always be okay.
And I’ve learned that some people just aren’t interested in solutions. And I must WALK AWAY.
What have you learned?
Lindon and Sherry Gareis began writing in September 2009 knowing God was directing them to share their passion through Declutter Now!. While working through the book, God asked them to begin a ministry to provide resources and services; hence Action Plan Ministries was born. Shortly thereafter, a trusted mentor recommended they take Christian Life Coaching classes and become certified coaches. Looking back, they see God’s hand through it all, even though they were initially unaware how each piece would fit together. To learn more about the Gareis’s, Declutter Now!, and their Life Coach Ministry, click here.
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