Sunday, July 22, 2007

Looking beyond what you see


“Each of us will give an account of himself to God. Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way.” Romans 14:12-13

Ever come across people who just tag along with you all the time, though you wished again and again that he or she will just buzz off? Or someone who is just plain talkative? Or maybe that someone just loves to boast? Well maybe you’ve known people who just talk as if your feelings do not matter, and you try to avoid them each time because their words hurt? Or well, maybe someone who is very manipulative and bossy? Or errm, someone just really hyper-active, or childish/immature, or behaves strangely and sends a chill down your spine?

I am sure enough you have. If you have not, you will one day.

So what do you do when you are faced with these people? I mean, they are everywhere, even in the Church. So, what shall we do with them? Shut them off? Say something hurtful hoping that they will stay away? Or do we reject them and let them know that we want nothing to do with them? Or maybe we put on a pretense—trying our best to put up with them but gossiping about them behind their backs?

There’re many things that we do when faced with these people, and I know that I am not in a position to judge. Almost, if not all of us, as human beings, find it very hard to put up with people like these. They seem very frustrating and annoying. To us, they are just like what the Apostle Paul says, ‘a thorn in the flesh’. I do struggle to accept these people as well, and maybe, people do find me annoying too.=)

But really, before we judge a person right away because of the way he or she acts, maybe it’s time that we just pause and think: “ Why are they acting this way?” yes, sometimes it might be just because of their attitudes, but at times it’s not so. Though we may just prefer to ‘flow with the crowd’ and pass our judgments right away, shouldn’t we just pause and think?

Ok, I will be very honest here.

Many times after passing a judgment on someone whom I think is weird, I will later find out about that person’s background, unintentionally. Few years ago I had a classmate who just changed totally almost overnight, which gave me a shock. Immediately it seems like everyone changed their perspective on her and soon she found herself losing friends. All over the place there were gossips, and true, I did join them at first, but it wasn’t long before I knew why she acted so. I began to realize that it was lack of parental love which caused her to react that way.

There is another case where this particular girl is very much disliked and is very annoying as she just tags along people all the time, and she is very immature. It didn’t take me long to find out that her mother is working overseas and only comes back maybe once a year, to see her children. To me, that explains why this girl is acting this way.

Maybe there is someone who talks as if she does not care if her words hurt. Often we find ourselves staying away from people like these because we are afraid of being hurt. And it is true that these people are very hard to be with, but before we judge them, maybe we should consider the phrase “Hurting people hurt (others)”? Maybe that is why they act in such a way? Maybe they are really hurt themselves?

These are just few out of the many cases that I’ve come across with. But with these girls, I believe that they are acting that way because they are thirsty for attention. True, this shouldn’t be used as an excuse for our actions or attitudes, but unless they deal with the root cause of their problems, they will continue to be like that, if not worse. People who are insecure and are thirsty for attention are often very annoying. They will do any thing to attract your attention. These people just need assurance.

So what exactly should we do? I believe that we cannot do this by our own strength, and we must really rely on God. Ask yourself, what will Jesus do? How will He handle these people? Will He reject them or accept them? You will need the grace of God.

I think the most important thing is to make that person feel belonged. From experience, it is not at all fun to be an oddball. Let them know that they are special in the eyes of God and He loves them just as they are. These people just need that assurance. Sometimes they may have a very hard outer-shell, but they are actually very fragile inside. Even those three words, “God loves you” can send tears to someone who looks strong on the outside. Remember, they might be hurting because of something that has happened. Assure them that you are not going to condemn or reject them like many people do. Sometimes people talk a lot because they were rejected before and so now they want your attention—by talking. Like I said, this should not be an excuse, but the root cause of their problem must be properly dealt with.

Once we have built a bonding with that person, firm enough to let them trust us with their stories, then we should allow them to just pour out their hearts. Before this, maybe we need to assure that person that we want to help and that this will be kept a secret between both of us, unless with their permission, there is a need to share it with someone. Remember, listening at times can be of greater help than talking. Let that person know that you understand. If you need help from someone more matured, do so after getting their permission to share their story with another person. If the person does not feel comfortable sharing his story, do not force them. Sometimes the problems may have been bothering them for a long time and they’ve never shared it before, or sometimes the timing just isn’t right. Maybe, that person is still insecure. Whatever it is, give them time.

Lastly, pray and share what the Word of God has to say with them. If you have any personal experiences that are relevant, that is even better because it shows that someone they know have gone through it and overcame.

And if you find out that that person acts in such a way because he/she is ‘born’ like that, again, do not condemn them. If they really want to change, assure them God can help them change and you are willing to come alongside with them. Pray for them.

As you can see, it is not easy to deal with these people, but they need help. Sometimes they know their problems but they simply don’t know what to do. If you know someone like this, do not reject them like others do, but see if they need help. You will be surprised at they story they have behind all this.

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