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Christian Women's Magazine | Breaking Old Habits

JBU Summer 2015

By Jan Frans, M.S.

How do you survive the fallout of other's choices...especially when their choices impact us negatively? 

It would be great if the choices of those around us didn't impact us, but they do. So how do we cope? And, how can we break the old habits of responding poorly? Here are some of the steps I walk myself through when the fallout is negative:

1.  I must discipline myself to pause.

This is not my natural impulse! I want to give it to them straight! Honestly, even if my opinion about someone else’s actions is correct, I am not likely to express it in a loving way if I speak immediately. Making a relational mess is not Christ-honoring. 

2.  I need to vent my feelings appropriately.

Sometimes that might be to the Lord alone, or to an honest friend who knows I love Jesus. I might journal or pound the pavement in a walk. Venting in a healthy way allows me to move constructively towards resolution.

3.  I reflect.

I try to give people the benefit of the doubt and seek information about why they made the decisions they did. Not everyone who makes poor decisions does it on purpose or sees the consequences of their decisions coming. Sometimes people make the wrong decision because they are naïve, misled, inexperienced, or lack wisdom. 

4.  It may or may not be appropriate to have a conversation with the offending party.  

If I think it is okay to talk, I tell myself to proceed with caution. I usually run my approach by trusted counselors or friends first. The words, “Help me understand why you decided...” is much more helpful than coming in and telling them why what they decided was wrong.

Speak in “I messages...” rather than accusatory ones. This takes fruitful self-control. Saying, “When you did that, I felt... ” is far better than telling someone, “YOU did this to me/us.” Remember, they are not the enemy. Realize that, even if you do everything right, you may not be understood. Christians can have blind spots and disconnects, even when we try our best to help them understand. 

It is sad but true that people disappoint us and don’t always reciprocate the understanding we are seeking. At those times, I find comfort in the Scriptures, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone...” (Rom. 12:18). Sometimes people will never understand or even care about our losses. Thank God that’s not the end of the story!

In the end, we need to realize that the understanding of the Lord is all that matters and that we have complete access to Him to help us cope (Rom. 5:2). He is our Provider and will deal with the fallout and those responsible. The important thing is that we keep our own integrity before Him in the way we treat others, knowing that no matter what others do to us, God is good and He loves us. Pour your heart out to Him, leaning on His loving arms. Look for His love in the details!


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