The greatest gift you can give to someone is to let them be who they are. People just want to know they are loved and accepted for who they are. And we have the power to do that for each other, either by our verbal communication or by our actions toward one another.
Sadly, most of us have experienced so much judgment, criticism and negativity that we have become a society filled with insecure people who simply don't like themselves very much. Insecurity has become quite an epidemic that shows up in our lives in many ways.
For example, people live to try to outdo each other – to have more, to be better, to be prettier, smarter, and even to be more spiritual than someone else – all in an effort to feel better about themselves.
I understand how that can happen. I grew up in a very negative environment. My father was extremely angry and critical a lot of the time, so we just never knew what he would say or do from one minute to the next. That kind of environment is a breeding ground for insecurity. Because of all the negativity, along with the mental and sexual abuse I experienced from him, I believed his unhappiness was my fault and it was my responsibility to try and keep him content. As a result, I became a very negative, insecure, angry, critical, and controlling person.
If we live with constant criticism and fault-finding, we will eventually become discontent – mostly with ourselves. But it will usually affect our relationships with others, because our insecurity causes us to pressure, manipulate, reject or try to control others in some way – so we can feel better about ourselves. Because, simply put, if you don't like yourself, you will have a hard time liking, or even just being nice to anyone else.
That's true of a lot of relationships, especially marriages. I remember early in my marriage, how I used to pick at and belittle Dave for not being like I thought he should. You see, I married him and then started trying to change him to suit me. Many people do this, trying to make their mate what they want them to be. But the truth is only God can change people, and we need to leave it to Him decide if, how and when to do that. I remember praying for Dave to change. But one day God spoke to my heart and said, "Joyce, Dave is not the problem."
I encourage you not to damage your relationships because of trying to force someone to change. Let them be who they are, and you be who you are. Allow others to feel and think differently without any pressure or manipulation on your part. Trying to make someone change only makes them become defensive; in which case, they are less likely to change and more likely to resist.
Find Your Place to Be You
It is God who changes each of us as we cooperate with the Holy Spirit. The key is to focus on trusting God to work in you personally…and letting Him handle others as well. When I was praying for God to change Dave, He told me Dave wasn't the problem. I was my problem! I didn't like myself, so I was making Dave my "project," thinking if he changed it would make things better for me.
Thankfully, Dave was in his place! He was strong, stable and secure, and he was going to be himself no matter what. He liked who he was and wasn't about to let me change him. As a matter of fact, he once told me, "Joyce you better be very happy I'm the way I am!" Well I am glad, because it was Dave's confidence in Christ that revealed to me something I was missing back then – a peace and security that can only be found in a personal, intimate relationship with Christ!
That is our place of security – in Christ – where we are safe and can be who we are while He works in us to change whatever needs to be changed in us.
Live and Let Live
The Bible tells us to come as we are to Jesus (see Matthew 11:28), and He will make us what we need to be. We can also trust Him to do the same with the other people in our lives. He knows how to reveal Himself to them, just as He does with us.
So, focus on your own relationship with God. Be who you are, but allow the Holy Spirit to continue His work in you. He will probably use the people in your life…just as they are…to inspire you, encourage you, challenge you, and sometimes maybe even to teach you what not to do!
Live your life in Christ, and let others live theirs; knowing that God is in control. Everyone is unique and anointed in different areas for different things. When you're in your place, there's no need for competition with anyone…no need to impress anyone…no need to prove anything to anyone. You know you're okay…and you're on your way! And that's what matters.
So, find your place and be secure in God's love for you – and for everyone else in your life!