Are you comfortable being around someone who doesn’t like you? Most people would answer: no. We don’t like it when people don’t like us. We still feel this way even though we know we don’t like everyone, and not everyone is going to like us. Yet, it still makes us doubt ourselves and ruin our confidence. Sometimes we give others reasons not to like us, and sometimes there isn’t a reason at all.
I used to struggle with this issue a lot, mostly when I was growing up and in the teen years. I did my best to be friends with or like everyone and I didn’t understand why my efforts were not always reciprocated. It would bug me so much that I’d get to the point of realizing that I had to just let the person go. I used to ignore my mom when she said that people didn’t like me because of jealousy. The older I got, and had more experiences in dealing with people, I learned that she was right (and not just saying so because she’s my mom). How often can jealousy turn into hatred? It’s a very fine line. In Rage, we see Ashley battle with jealousy and hatred for Claudia, and look how badly that turned out!
Anyway, I don’t recall what was going on in my life when God taught me a very valuable lesson on this topic, but anyway, I was reading in the book of John in the Bible. Suddenly, many words jumped off the page at me. I could not get over the numerous revelations I received from God on so many various passages. I felt free.
Chapter 15 and 17, in particular, talk about how the world hates Jesus, and to not be surprised that if we have Jesus living inside of us, then the world will hate us too. *Light bulb moment* Not only was my mom right, but God had an explanation too. People will hate me, and us, for who we are because of their insecurities, but they will also hate us because of Jesus. If you mention that to a bully, they will probably call you crazy or worse, but it’s true. They may not even realize that is WHY they hate us: that they crave God so much, that they hate anyone who has him. Or, they don’t understand God or followers of Jesus, so they will hate us for the same reasons people hate(d) Jesus. Since Jesus was treated harshly, we can’t really expect to be treated much better.
I also realized that I had been taking people’s opinions and feelings (or lack thereof) toward me too personally. Sure, I’m not perfect and not everyone is going to get along with me and vice versa, and that’s okay. I will not let them dictate what I do or how I do it. When it’s a bit more serious, like dealing with bullies and enemies, we need to remember a few things:
1. Pray for your enemies. Jesus commands us to do it. He did it, we must do likewise. I’ve done it plenty of times and God amazed me with how he can change a situation or a person’s heart. I dare you to do it.
2. People will hate us simply because we are different. We cannot let them change who we are, or hide who we are, or deny Christ. People will always mock Jesus and his followers until the end times. If people hate you for no apparent reason, that’s probably the answer. Be glad because that means you are having an impact for Him. I know it’s uncomfortable, but you’ll learn that the less attention that you give to their thoughts, opinions, and actions, the less they will bother you.
3. People hated Jesus. We are not better than him, and sometimes they will make a point to remind us of our failures. Don’t let anyone bring you down.
4. You’re not alone in this struggle. God will free you from the burden, the struggle, the pain, the memories, or whatever you need if you ask him to.
5. We also have a very crafty enemy who loves to use people around us to do his dirty work for him. Don’t let him win the battles. Ephesians 6:12 is a good reminder of this: “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
Either write down or mentally list off anyone who comes to mind. If you haven’t yet, forgive them. If you are like me, it’s probably a good time to forgive them again. I strongly encourage you to read John 15 and 17, and memorize John 15:5, as this Scripture is very important for your life. Let God change your heart and free it.