How Do You Respond When Someone Reacts Negatively To Your Positive Change?
Have you ever noticed that when you choose to make a change in your life it can tend to shake other people up?
Maybe it is a change like saying ‘no’ to an unhealthy relationship, going back to school, starting to eat healthy, getting into a regular workout routine, saying ‘yes’ to that mission trip God keeps laying on your heart, or building a relationship with that tough neighbor because you want to tell him about Jesus.
Whenever we choose to make decisions in our lives that move us towards looking more like Jesus, we can get pushback from the people around us – even from people we love. Why is that?
When we say yes to changes God is asking us to make by stepping out of our comfort zone and doing that hard thing He has been asking us to change or do, it can shake up people around us, especially people who may not be saying yes to God in their own lives right now. If someone isn’t happy with the way he or she is living, there is a good chance they aren’t going to be genuinely happy for the people around them who are making choices to say yes to God, because they are having trouble making that choice for themselves.
So how do we respond in these situations?
Give grace. You never know what God might be trying to stir up in another person by letting them see changes happening in you. Their negative words may be directed at you, but there is a good chance those words actually have nothing to do with you. Instead of getting angry, taking it personal, or lashing back, choose to love, extend grace, and pray for them.
“The LORD is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. The LORD is good to everyone. He showers compassion on all His creation,” Psalm 145:8-9.
“For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rules and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places,” Ephesians 6:12.
Keep going. It can be easy to become discouraged when people are attacking your decisions or putting you down for the choices that you have made, but do not give up. If God really has spoken something to you and it is not just you speaking it to yourself and saying it was God, DO NOT GIVE UP. Continue to be faithful in what He is asking you to do.
“You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up,” Galatians 6:7b-9.
“Think of all the hostility he [Jesus] endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up,” Hebrews 12:3.
Find support. If some people in your life are not being supportive, ask God to provide you with community who will encourage you and speak life into you as you are making these changes.
“So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing,” 1 Thessalonians 5:11.
“Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near,” Hebrews 10:24-25.
Say, “Really?” a lot. When people are wanting to insert their opinion or they try to tear you down, you can respond with a gentle, “Really? That’s an interesting perspective,” and leave it at that. You don’t need to explain or justify your choices. Have the courage to be confident in the changes you are making and choose to be kind in responding to the naysayers around you.
“Kind words are like honey – sweet to the soul and healthy for the body,” Proverbs 16:24.
“Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them,” Ephesians 4:29.
Be open to what God is going to do. It is very likely that these changes you are making are going to give you opportunities to share them with others. You never know how your choices to change could encourage and influence others to say yes to changes God is asking them to make.