The other day as I was reading my Bible and pursuing some much needed wisdom from God I came across a devotional page in the midst of my reading. Normally I am eager to read these devotionals, I have a women’s devotional Bible which includes a devotional for every day of the week for every week of the year. These devotionals can be anything from prayers, to songs, to excerpts from other books, and they serve to help women connect what they are reading from God’s Word to the situations and circumstances of our every day lives. Like I said, most of the time I love these pages. Why else would I have bought the Bible right?
Well recently I have been struggling with a specific person in my life and this time during my reading I was looking for an answer from God on how to handle this person and my feelings about them. So as I read my 5 Psalms and 1 Proverb for the day (something I have just started recently) I came across my devotional for that day and to be honest my first inclination was to skip this one. The title was “Work Mismatch” and it came from a book called Devotions for Women in the Workplace which is written by Miriam Neff. Since I don’t work I assumed that this devotional wasn’t something that would apply to me in this season of my life. However, before I could begin searching for the next Tuesday devotional to see if maybe I could find a better fit for what I was going through, something in the text caught my eye and I began to read the page.
What caught my attention was the beginning of the second paragraph where the author explained that sometimes, when we feel mismatched in certain areas of our lives this is an opportunity to let God do some serious work in us. Smoothing out our “rough edges”, showing us how to be more humble, and teaching us things through valuable life experiences. The devotional went on to say things such as, “times of frustration are perfect opportunities to trust God in a new way, to learn leaning….” and it asked the reader to consider what God can teach us through situations where we feel mismatched.
Honestly most of the devotional didn’t seem to apply to what I was going through and feeling, but God knew that I needed to see these three things from the devotional in order for me to hear what He was trying to say to me. So I tried to apply these lessons to my struggles with that certain person in my life and after a while of thinking, praying, and writing in my journal this is what I came up with.
The reason I struggle so much to get along with this person is because we are completely mismatched. We are complete opposites in pretty much every way and our opposite personalities do not create a balance in our relationship at all. Instead it creates tension and friction the likes of which I have rarely experienced.
Now I am not saying that everyone has to be the same in order to have a functional healthy relationship. My husband and I are also complete opposites but our differences are more complimentary to one another and help us to reach harmony when we combine them to balance each other out. The same can be said for my relationships with a handful of my friends and family members. So differences are not bad at all. Unless one or both people in the relationship are completely rigid and unwilling to compromise in order to make the relationship work.
When this is the case it can create an environment of hostility and frustration not conducive to the development of a healthy relationship. An environment that I have found myself to be a part of for some time now, and if I am honest with myself, one that I contribute to more than I would like to admit. When I am passionate about something that I believe to be a fundamental truth I can be one of the most rigid people you will ever meet. Normally this side of my personality is hidden by my more dominant people-pleasing nature, but on occasion it shows its face and has ruined relationships on several occasions. Insert the truths God wanted me to see from Tuesday’s devotional.
I feel mismatched with this person. Period. They are not someone I would ever normally want to be in a relationship because their beliefs and ways of handling certain things go against mine in every single way. But like it or not, this person is in my life for a reason, and shutting them out or avoiding them forever just isn’t an option. So what am I supposed to do? Why would God place someone like this in my life? How am I supposed to handle this situation with a good attitude and a biblical perspective? These are questions I have been asking myself over and over again for months, along with another one, How can I change this person and make them see that they are wrong?
The truth is, God did not place this person in my life to change them or to make them see how wrong they are. He did it for me. This person is my sandpaper, who’s only purpose may simply be to irritate me enough to make me change, to smooth out my rougher edges, to teach me more humility, and make me so uncomfortable that the only way I can feel better is by turning to God. This is not one of the most pleasant truths that I have ever been faced with because in this case I am the one who is being disciplined, not the person who I think deserves it more. But I can never truly know the ways of God right? What I do know is what the Bible tells me over and over, that God does things for the good of those who love Him, that sometimes these things are hard and I may feel as if I am being punished, but that God in His infinite wisdom knows better. He knows exactly who and what I need to come up against in life in order for me to become the person He created me to be.
Truth is this person and I may never truly “match”, we may never have the same opinions or ways of handling things, and this person may never change. But that’s not what I should be concerned about. My focus is to be on learning everything God wants me to from this situation and applying these things to my life so that I can be transformed into the person He wants me to be.
Its not pleasant, it itches and chafes at my stubborn heart and makes me uncomfortable beyond words. In my discomfort I am forced to lean on God because in no way am I strong enough or good enough to handle this on my own. And that is exactly what I need! I need this mismatched feeling because without it I would be missing out on my Heavenly Father’s instruction. I would gladly suffer sandpaper if not doing so means I am missing out on God.
So I hope that if you are reading this post and you feel a bit mismatched with a certain person or situation in your life that you will be inspired by this post the same way I was by that Tuesday devotional. Remember, God’s Word tells us that He disciplines and teaches us for our own good, the way a parent disciplines a child they love and are delighted in. It may not feel good while its happening but it would feel even worse if He didn’t do it at all.