A Note from Kelly King: I love that Deb Douglas just puts it out there in today’s article on dealing with people who drive us crazy. I’m sure I’ve been on both sides—there are people I’ve avoided and people who avoid me. Smile through today’s article and be reminded that Scripture calls us to a life of kindness, gentleness, and seeing others as image-bearers of God.
This is something that is so messy I hesitate to write about it. To do so puts me in a vulnerable place. So much so, that I hear screams of “draw a boundary, Deb!” in my mind. But I am a making a choice to let my fingers keep flying over the keyboard. When I started writing about the messiness of life and ministry I made a choice to be bold and brave, and yes, sometimes stupidly vulnerable.
So here goes…
There are people I would love to avoid.
There, I said it.
It’s true. It makes me want to dodge down another aisle in the Sam’s Club when I spy a glimpse of them. If you are tsk, tsking me right now, just stop it. Because nobody who serves others is free of the over-demanding, long-winded, unreasonable, unpleasant people in life that push us right into Crazyville. And I would guess a mental picture of someone popped into your mind as you read that.
When does the desire to avoid someone become a problem?
- When our list of people we want to avoid is longer than the list of people we want to serve. If this is the case, it is time for a break, the beach, and a good counselor.
- When we become obsessed with avoiding someone. Or when we talk about the person frequently. We have become the crazy one at that point. It’s time for some prayer, honest reflection, and confession.
- When the person has become a stalker. If the person is adding family members and friends on social media to get closer to you, if they show up everywhere you are, or attempt to make contact multiple times a day, the person may have become a stalker. Yes, this happens in churches. It even happens to women of my age, and the stalkers are not just males. And it is creepy and must be confronted. Talk to the pastor, and follow his recommendations. (NOTE: If you feel unsafe and the person is a danger to you and others, seek help!)
- When we have lost all compassion and judgment when thinking of the person, it is time for a deep evaluation of our own hearts. Are we obsessing? Have we allowed seeds of bitterness, resentment, and hatred to seep into our hearts.
There are some people we do not like. We clash with them over every aspect and perception of life. We do not have to be best friends with everyone we serve or serve with. Life gets messy. We are not the only ones with messy lives. Good boundaries will keep our messiness from spilling onto others and keep the messiness of others from drowning us.
Not liking someone is very different from not wanting to be on the same planet as another person.
What do we do when we just cannot face being around someone?
- Recognize we might be the person someone else wants to avoid. We are not perfect. We may be driving others crazy around us!
- Ask God to soften our hearts toward the person. (Keep strong boundaries if the person is a stalker!)
- Listen to the person’s story. Try to determine why they are the way they are. Offer gentle suggestions of how they could be less difficult.
- Pray for the person.
- Read CrazyMakers by Dr. Paul Meier.
The messiness of the world makes for messy people. Keeping ourselves from becoming one of the messy people may mean setting a healthy boundary of distance. The desire to avoid someone may be a red flag of caution; take time to analyze and pray for direction in dealing with the messy people. If people who drive us crazy divert our focus, then our focus cannot be on fulfilling God’s call and purpose. That call is a gift; treasure it in the midst of the messy world.
For more help and resources on ministering in the messy, check out Women Reaching Women in Crisis and Steps: Gospel-Centered Recovery or refer to the other articles in the Hurting Women or Ministering in the Messy categories.
God has called Deb Douglas to make a difference in the world, one woman at a time. For over 39 years, Deb has served in women’s ministry. Now she spends her time ministering to women in the sex trade ministry and serving as the Director of Biblical Counseling at First Baptist Bossier City. Deb is a contributor to LifeWay’s All Access blog, a freelance writer, and an event speaker. Deb was the first to graduate from New Orleans Baptist Theological seminary with a Masters focusing on women’s ministry and has earned a Doctor of Education in Ministry degree from NOBTS. Deb is “Pearl” to 3 sweet grand babies, “Mom” to Jared Douglas and Katie Chavis, and wife/sweetheart to Paul Douglas.