When I was a very small child, my father left, and I only saw him sporadically throughout my growing up years. He lived on the other side of the country, and so I used to fly out for one week every summer–if he was around. Sometimes those summer visits didn’t happen.
I always felt like there was something wrong with me because my father didn’t seem to want to be with me. Other friends I had whose parents were divorced coped better, it seemed to me, because they at least saw their dads on the weekends. I didn’t.
When I was seven, my mother got together with a new man who was wonderful. He loved me, and we had such fun together. He had a dog, so now I had a dog, and I felt like we were a real family. But when they broke up when I was 14, that man asked to cut off contact with me, because he felt like it would be too emotionally difficult.
I think partly because of both of these incidents, I went through my teen years letting friends walk all over me. I didn’t really stand up for myself; I let everyone else set the terms of our relationship, because I so wanted people to like me. That often meant I was annoying to be around, because I was really clingy, but other people decided how often we would be together, what we would do, and when our relationship would end.
When I finally met a man I was sure I would marry, and we became engaged, he broke up with me, too. He later came crawling back, and we did marry, but I went into that marriage with such rejection issues.
I know some of you have worse pasts than mine, but I tell all that story to say that now the littlest rejection can send me into a funk.
Yesterday I “tweeted” a link to an article on what’s okay to do in the bedroom. It was a good article, and most people who follow me on Twitter are Christians.
Well, two individuals who are atheists replied and called me all sorts of bad things. I laughed it off and blocked them, for a few hours later I was out in the car, driving my daughter somewhere, and realized I was in a funk. And I couldn’t figure out why. And after thinking about it, I realized it was related to those silly tweets. It felt like an arrow had hit me.
Why? I completely agreed with the article I linked to. I wasn’t sorry. I didn’t think I was wrong. I don’t agree with those tweeters’ world view, and I don’t agree with the way they communicate. I do not respect them in the least. So why did it bother me that they thought I was silly? After all, we’re told in the Bible that we will be laughed at and jeered at–and worse–because we follow Jesus, and when we do get laughed at, we’re to consider it a badge of honour.
I know all that intellectually, and after praying, I settled down about those two. But I do have this streak in me that makes it difficult to function well when I know people are annoyed at me, even if I wouldn’t have done anything differently because I think I was right. It’s one of the reasons I find committee work hard, because invariably you tick off somebody, and most others aren’t afraid to let you know when they’re annoyed at you (which I find really strange, because I hardly ever tell anyone when they annoy me. I guess I just don’t think about it. My main bent is to get people to like me, not to figure out if I like them).
I am much better than I used to be, but I find it still a struggle, and something I have to take daily to God in prayer. I can deal with disagreements with my family, because I know they’ll get resolved. But when it’s merely acquaintances, or co-workers, or even strangers through hate mail, I feel all horrible when people are mad at me.
It may be natural, but it’s wrong, because we’re to please God, and not men, and we’re to concentrate on doing what He wants, and not what others want. I shouldn’t take it to heart like I do. But it is a struggle I have, and so I continue to pray through it, and tell myself that it’s okay when people are mad at me–if they’re mad for the right reasons.