What do you do when life hands you jerks? Over the last year, the lightbulb finally went on and my approach towards relationships radically shifted.
In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “[b]ut I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…” In addition, Luke wrote, “[d]o good to those who hate you.” Accordingly, these are the three ways I used to respond to jerks:
- To the best of my ability, be sweet and do acts of kindness.
- Try to connect with them and figure out the underlying reason for their jerkiness; dig up the root cause for any issues, deal with it, empathize where possible and create peace.
- When all the above failed, pray that time would yield healing in the relationship.
These habits became entirely depleting. Can anyone relate?
What I was trying to do was chase after the jerks: in fact, I found that the more jerky a person would be, then the kinder I would try to be. While those attempts are beautiful, the problem is that we only have so much to give and that there are consequences when our energy is consumed with the wrong people and situations.
Trying to make people who didn’t care for me happy and striving to be likable was exhausting, and disappointing, and an impossible task…leaving me with little left to give back to those who actually filled my life with goodness.
The Bible has a lot to say about fools (I’m going to use the words fool and jerk interchangeably, because it’s helpful for me to think of jerks as fools). For example, “[l]ike tying a stone in a sling is the giving of honor to a fool.” (Proverbs 26:8)
How I handle fools now:
- I take my focus off the fools and invest my energy in people who are awesome: those people who are kind, diligent, authentic, and inspiring are the ones I give my time, energy and resources to.
- When someone is a fool, I will be courteous and pray for them; I don’t start acting like a fool myself.
- If the fool starts acting less foolish, then I might offer them new opportunities for trust.
Time is a valuable asset and it’s important to be smart in how we invest it. Just as one would not invest money in some venture that promises loss, one might want to think twice before investing in a relationship that promises depletion.
However, a wise investment reaps: accordingly, I have now found that as I assign time and energy to great people and big dreams, the result is that my cup overflows and my life is rich.