The Problem With Relationships: Making Peace With Who You Are
Jul 15th, 2012 | By Tim George | Category: Christianity, Religion, Top Headline | Print This Article
Hanging onto resentment is letting someone you despise live rent-free in your head. – Ann Landers
Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die. – Carrie Fisher
The reason we don’t understand other people is often because we don’t really understand ourselves. Everyone can and should improve themselves in many ways, but God has allowed some things within all us that just are. Finding peace with God in those unchangeables is essential to having healthy relationships with others.
Look around you. Think about people you know at work, at school, in church, and in your own family. Now look in the mirror. Can you see ways these people complicate their lives and relationships by trying to be something they are not or fight against something that can’t be changed? Perhaps it’s their physical beauty of perceived lack thereof. Maybe it is something that runs deeper, like the loss of spouse or child they can’t seem to accept. No matter what, everyone has something about themselves that simply cannot be changed. Making peace with those unchangeables is often the first step toward succeeded in relationships and life.
A Life Worth Not Changing
Imagine the following described you:
- Born into a racial minority and looked down on by the ethnic majority. Your race is still considered fair game for occasional ethnic cleansing. You are hated simply for your genetics, and those cannot be changed.
- At the bottom of the social ladder even within your race, living in a frontier town often associated with criminals and the dropouts of society.
- Though you break out of the mold and do something truly unique, you are considered emotionally imbalanced by your immediate family.
In case you haven’t guessed already, this is a fair description of Jesus while on this earth. He was a Jew, born into a Roman slave state. He was hated simply because of his genetics and was raised in Nazareth, a town even his own disciples couldn’t imagine being capable of producing anything good. His own brothers once suggested He was mentally imbalanced and considered having him involuntarily committed (see John 1:46; John 19:26-27; and Mark 3:21).
Jesus’ earthly life offers us a perfect example of how the unchangeables of life can be strengths when committed to God. Think about it— do you know that seems perfectly at peace with whom and what they are? Have you ever noticed it is often the people who have the most to complain about? How does that peace with self affect their relationships with others?
Those Unhappy Corinthians
The Apostle Paul wrote two long letters to a group of people who had a lot of trouble being at peace with each other. In 1 and 2 Corinthians, the apostle addressed a number of relationship issues and the way to overcome them.
- 1 Corinthians 1:26-31 – God purposefully chooses those that aren’t perfect. Rather than focusing on ourselves (weaknesses and strengths), He leads us to focus on Him (v.31).
- 1 Corinthians 3:1-9 – Every believer has an important part to play in God’s kingdom. None is more important (regardless of their natural abilities or background) than any other. The main reason people have relationship problems and resent their place in life is because of their own immaturity as a believer.
- 1 Corinthians 4:1-5 – What matters most is that we are faithful with whatever God has given us. What others think about us and what we think about ourselves means little compared to what God says about us.
Many relationship problems arise from an unwillingness to be at peace with how God made us. This doesn’t mean it is wrong to make the very best of what and who we are. In the parable of the talents, Jesus stressed God’s expectation that we would do the most with what He has given us. At the same time, there are certain aspects of our personhood that God designed. We only damage ourselves and others when we fight against them.
Make Peace with your Unchangeables
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. (Psalm 139:14 ESV)
Physical - God knew everything about what you would be before you were. Though we can do much to work to strengthen and improve various physical characteristics, there is much that was decided long before we were born. Genetic engineering and tampering with the unborn are examples of man trying to cheat this principle. Of course, we should seek the best medical help possible to correct physical problems. At the same time, it is a dangerous thing for a society to begin to make value judgments about genetic realities.
Mental and Emotional – We are born with certain mental and emotional strengths and weaknesses. The Apostle Paul was bold and in need of a thorn in the flesh to keep him humble. His protégée, Timothy, was timid and needed encouragement to be bold and speak forth. They were near opposites in emotional makeup and yet equally valuable before God. It was how God made them. Note that both worked on those unchangeables but both were also at peace with them.
Family – You cannot change who birthed you or in what order in which you were born. Family histories are filled with rivalries, near open warfare between eldest and youngest, and numerous other realities that have to be lived, with not eradicated.
Gender – In Genesis, God created and commissioned two distinct sexes. Our culture seems increasingly determined to deny the obvious differences God designed for gender. It is far too early to have a clear picture of what gender confusion will do to our culture. All religious and Biblical arguments aside, the clear record of history is that empires have fallen when the basic family unit crumbled.
National and Racial Heritage – Lack of acceptance of racial and national heritage can lead to many destructive extremes. At one extreme we deny our differences and at the other we avoid all who we consider different. Both are damaging to self and others.
God has a perfect place and plan for everyone and that plan includes every unchangeable. The ultimate lesson to learn from those things we cannot change is that God is all we need.
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:6 ESV)
My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10 ESV)
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