Sunday, September 13, 2009

Breaking up

Play Nice or Go Home

I was shocked to read an article advising people how to "break up" with those who annoy them. See the original article here (it's pretty short).

The article suggests taking steps: first issuing a warning, then gathering ideas and evidence to state your case, then cutting ties if the person refuses to concede.

I find the aforementioned method condescending, to say the least. I can think of a few situations where a person is an addict or has otherwise destructive habits. In that case, intervention is important... +/-


Check Your Motives

...However, the article seems to be referring to people who annoy you personally. And in that case, you would have to be very careful to point out mistakes in a way that is not merely serving your own needs, but is constructive to the other person. There is a fine line between what is simply a personality difference and what is inappropriate behavior.

How do you know that you aren't the crazy one? Think carefully about that before confronting someone.

If someone is letting me know that I'm being offensive, the way that message is delivered to me is very important. Being confronted with a list of "grievances" is not something that I would respond well to. I wouldn't want to feel like I was being plotted against. It's important to think before you speak, but waiting a week while you form a good argument borders on manipulation.


You Don't Have to be Best Friends

I agree that there are some people with whom we're incompatible for one reason or another, and in some cases we can avoid close contact with them. This can save unnecessary stress and senseless arguments. Or we can avoid certain conversation topics.

However, is it really necessary to go through the whole process of telling a person what's wrong with him, if you plan to cut ties? Wouldn't it be better to just walk away peacefully?


Love Them or Leave Them

Also, I find that a lot of the time, these "crazy people" are the ones I'm closest to...my friends, family, co-workers, and fellow church members! And I wouldn't have noticed their "annoying" behavior if I hadn't spent a lot of time with them. If I'm going to hand out warnings or "break up" with each person who annoys me, I'm not going to get very far in my personal relationships. I'm not going to die to myself, and won't do much growing.

You can apply this to a simple case of sibling rivalry. What do you do with kids who keep getting on each other's nerves? One or both of them might need a time-out to calm down! But in a case where feelings have been hurt or injury inflicted, confrontation is needed. Repetitive conflict will need a stronger dose of intervention. But you can't separate the siblings indefinitely; they are a part of each other's lives. Rather than designating one of them the naughty one who is socially unfit, they need to learn to compromise.

I guess the article is just another example of how the Gospel is missing from the way people live their everyday lives. Everything is about "me" and getting rid of those things that stand in the way of my own success.

Is it any wonder divorce is so rampant? If you've been through a complicated situation, I am not trying to minimize your pain. I just think that we too often hear the message that we can control everything, or shut something out that God wants to use to make us stronger.


What I Would Have Written

My modified advice would be:

-if it's a person you don't want or have to see regularly, just keep your mouth shut and find ways to ignore the behavior. Let go of your preferences temporarily.

-if it's a person you plan to spend a lot of time with, find ways to either get used to the issue that's bothering you, or confront the person as quickly and humbly as possible, so you can move ahead.

-always check your motives!


3 comments:

  1. V....................September 14, 2009 at 8:46 AM

    Liz, I studied what I would call the American way of counseling people (or the American Christian way of counseling people). Do not adhere to their advice that much. It's not biblical by any stretch of the imagination. We, as Christians, are asked to go an extra mile to bear the burdens of others. You see, the thing is the laws of your land are still working. Imagine that they do not. Imagine, you have NO protection from the government and the police. Everything would immediately change. Right now you are still protected. Right now you still have a voice. The American Christians (as well as the Christians around the globe) are very narcissistic and can only think of themselves. How many Christian do you know personally today who fast on a daily (weekly, monthly) basis? How many Christians do you personally know that are willing to PRAISE Jesus when everything is going wrong in their lives? When they have no money or food... will they still praise Him? Will you? Will I?

    I find Christian counseling wrong and appalling in many instances. Mostly it's based on misunderstandings and selfish ambitions. It was not so with Ap. Paul. If he listened to today's Christian counselors he would never serve the Lord. Look at his life! His life is where all the counseling we need comes from.

    How do you, Liz, personally understand Paul's advice for the virgins not to get married? Do you think he is out of line? What about Jesus who said that we have to HATE our mothers, fathers and others for the sake of the kingdom? Do you think he was out of line? Is the Bible false in that regard?

    I don't know. I am wrestling with all these issues myself a lot. The fact is, it goes against everything this culture has to offer.


    PS I do not spell-check my posts. If there are mistakes - ignore them.

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  2. No, the Bible is not false. When I'm reading a confusing passage, I normally look at the historical context and what is known about the author and whom he was addressing. Sometimes I use various concordances and commentaries and discuss it with others. And I call upon the Holy Spirit for help with understanding and application. There are certain passages which are misinterpreted, so it's important to keep studying! That is what I have found.

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  3. V........................September 19, 2009 at 9:52 AM

    Well, I still have a lot of unanswered questions. For instance, Mark 11. It clearly says there that if you ask something with faith it will be given to you. Not so in real life. I asked Jesus to give me things that I wanted (and no they were NOT bad things for me) and yet I didn't receive what I asked for.

    Luke 6, it says that if we give it will be given to us. I gave and I gave and I gave. What was I given in return? Very little. Or nothing. Mostly nothing.

    What I am trying to say is this, we have the entire denominations acting out on some of the passages in the Bible which are not and cannot be actualized in this life, thus they (the denominations) are misleading millions of their followers.

    I do not follow those denominations, luckily, but the struggle is still the same, nonetheless. Is Jesus real? Yes. Is He the Son of God. I believe so. Do I have a personal relationship with Him? No! In the last several years, I realized I never had any personal relationship with Him. It was all in my head.

    You said, "calling upon the Holy Spirit for understanding". What does it even mean? I called for upon Him to understand things thousands of times since I became a Christian. I didn't receive any answers. Never. I don't think anyone does. We just do our own thing, THINKING, we are receiving the Holy Spirit's guidance. But it's just all in our heads. I tested it. I asked the Holy Spirit specifically to guide me in certain things and nothing really happened. Am I alone on this? Am I saying outlandish things?

    Now, what does it have to do with the counseling thing? Very little. BUT... Ap. Paul was THE chosen one of God. Yet he went through struggles none of us can even imagine. At the end his head was cut off. He had all the guidance from the Holy Spirit yet I do not see him telling God what to do.

    Today's Christian counselors (most of them) are telling God what to do. They are telling us what to do. This is just wrong. The older I get the less I understand the Bible. The older I get the less I understand who God is. Yet, I still believe in Him. Simply because I have no choice. I know there IS God. And if that God is true what He says must be true. Is what he said working in my life? No. But He is still true.

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