In most of the situations where people seek counseling, the basic problem is a troubled relationship: husband and wife, child and parent, other family relations, conflict between friends, co-workers, individuals and superiors, or people and some institution. Some folks are brain damaged, and paranoid to be sure, but most of the cases involve problems between people. They say that dogs are man's best friend, and this is probably so because they cannot talk, talk back, or gossip. People, on the other hand, have more sensitive feelings than dogs and they remember slights and sometimes imagine hurts where there are none and this causes problems.
If you are human, there is probably someone at sometime that you have had issues with, even hated. If you are reading this text, I suspect that the hurt you feel is still there; or the person(s) you cannot stand are still there; or both. This, therefore, is a "how to" course of study and in it you are going to learn the following:
- How to deal with the people you can't stand, for whatever reason, in your life
- How to deal with the negative feelings that these people may have caused
- How to react and think differently in the future when this happens
- How to share your burden with others
- Identify three people/groups (don't write out names, simply represent with numbers) that you cannot stand either now or in the past.
- Just put a #1 for the first name you have in mind and leave a space, #2, etc.
- Imagine who they are but do not write them down, just list and refer to them by their numbers.
- Next to each number briefly note the main reason why you cannot stand #1, #2 and #3 (this list is private, you will not show it, and must not show it to anyone else).
- Some of the numbers may just be people that annoy you or with whom you have had a one-time conflict. This is ok. Make sure, however, that you include the "biggie," that person who is your all time champ at hating and why.
- Once you have finished, take a moment and together offer a silent prayer asking God to forgive you for your lack of love, or failure to resolve the situation for whatever reason, and from this time forward help you learn how to love those you have listed.
Do not be surprised that we have begun in this way because the point of this course is not to enable the people we cannot stand to become more lovable. No, the purpose of this course is to help us love those people in our lives who seem to be unlovable.
I mentioned that one way to achieve our goal, which is loving those we cannot stand, is to share our burden with others. Normally when we cannot stand someone our natural instinct is to talk badly about them or ignore them. This does not help because:
- We fall into sin and hurt our own souls by doing this.
- We aggravate the situation by distorting it.
- We alienate the person even further.
The Bible says that we should share each other's burdens not gossip (Galatians 6:2) and we can do this by honestly sharing with another our hurts and thoughts concerning our troubled relationships. This requires discretion, tenderness, understanding and openness with others.
In the following exercise I am going to ask all of you to show these qualities as you begin the process of sharing your burdens with one another. Here is how we will do this:
- Break into groups of five.
- No husbands/wives/family/buddies together in the same group.
- Pick one of your three on the list and share, to the degree you are comfortable, the reason why you cannot stand the person on your list.
- You can discuss your biggie or one of the lesser ones.
- Take the time to allow each person in your group to share.
- No advice or comments on how to fix things (not yet) from the others.
- When all have completed, select someone to lead a prayer for the group.
Your assignment is to read Romans 12:14-21 once each day until the next session. Also, begin to pray each day for the people represented by the three numbers you have listed. No matter how hard this may seem, pray. The only ones not affected by prayer are the devil and the dead.
In this first session I only wanted to break the ice and show that everyone has someone or something that they cannot stand. We have also begun to develop a basic relationship of trust with our fellow group members. Let us keep our discussions about these things among ourselves in order to maintain a level of privacy.