Difficult people are everywhere, and avoiding them is, well, unavoidable.
Meeting someone with a reputation for moodiness can be most unpleasant. It can be something you actually dread! Nobody wants to be near someone who is all bitterness and spews her yuck out at every opportunity.
Cantankerous is the word I use to describe people who look for the bad in everything. If you say something nice, they say something negative. If you like something, they don’t care for it. If you talk about a book that interests you, they say they are not interested. Things that normal, rational people would agree are opinions and areas of taste (foods, clothing styles, restaurants, grocery stores) become dogmatic, black and white, end of discussion statements. “We ONLY shop here.” (well, okay then…moving on!)
It is hard to teach kids to be respectful of people who are cranky, and in our home we have just kinda told our kids to be polite but not be “poisoned by their bitterness.”
So, I humbly give you five ways to deal with miserable people. This list will help you in all areas of life:
1. Realize that it’s THEM, not YOU.
You are not responsible for their bad attitude, words or sour looks. That is freeing. Remember–“I am responsible for me.”
2. Realize that hurt people hurt other people.
I have seen this over and over in the ministry. Those who have been severely hurt in life are the ones who try to hurt others. Maybe they have never learned to forgive. Maybe they have chosen bitterness as a pet sin. Whatever the reason, keeping in mind that they have been hurt helps you to be merciful when dealing with them.
3. Realize that You are commanded to be kind.
Just because they are miserable does not mean that that should affect the way you treat them. If you use the old “eye for an eye” method with them, you are being controlled by them and their mood. My mother used to say, “Be the bigger person. Do what’s right.”
Jesus specifically addressed this incase you are tempted to reason your way out of this:
But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. You have heard it said, Love your neighbor, hate your enemy.
But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?
These are the basics. How are you showing that God’s word has changed you? Are you an example of Christ’s love ONLY to those who are nice and kind towards you? Or are you taking the approach that when you are insulted, you give it back twice as wickedly? When you are mistreated or overlooked, do you go into slow burn method and then deliver the ice cold silent treatment to your victim? How dwelleth the love of God in you?
No, when insulted, bless. When hated, love. It is the mark of a true believer in Christ.”love your enemies and do good to those who despitefully use you.” If you don’t he asks, How are you any better than they are?
4. You need to pray for them.
Nobody wants to pray for a mean person, but pray we must. Even our enemies need our love. Why? Because when you display to them the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ to change YOU, you give them hope that they can change.
5. Reach Out. Start today.
I have taught my girls to be the first to make an effort to be kind, and then see where that leads. With adults, I approach every day as a fresh slate. I usually will give a “Hi, ___________. How are you today?” greeting, and read their response. If they are “in a mood” I move along. If they want to chat, I will do that, too. There is always hope that they will change one day. To give up on them is to deny the power of the gospel in their life. If it could change you, then it can certainly change them.
Where the rubber meets the road.
Sometimes we desire to be rid of these pesky relationships, but we fail to realize that God, in His sovereignty, has allowed them for a reason. A good and redemptive reason. He is trying to change US to be more like him in these messy relationships.
He is trying to chip away the ungodly thoughts and characteristics of our hearts. When we bristle after an encounter with a difficult person or sulk or worse– give it back to them twice as bad as they doled out– aren’t we running life the way we see fit and not according to God’s laws?
Aren’t we forgetting that life is not all about our wants, desires and plans? When we sin against the person who sinned against us, aren’t we putting ourselves up as little gods ruling our own little kingdoms? My way. I wanted A (kindness, love, respect) and instead I got B (insults, rudeness, cold shoulder) so I will respond with the “Reigning Sovereign in my life.” You response WILL show who is reigning in reality–self will or God’s will.
We have stated that we are disciples of Jesus Christ confessionally, but with our actions we deny it.
When we realize that God gives us what is BEST for us, we are more likely to see the situation through the lens of God’s glory. Even if they never change, You need to change. And r