When People Don’t Like You
No one likes to be disliked. But some people can just naturally tolerate it better than others. My husband, for instance, is slightly bothered when he finds out someone dislikes him, but he can move on. I, however, am incredibly bothered and try to figure out why that person dislikes me, what I did to offend him/her, what I might be able to do to make him/her like me. OR I get angry and think of all the reasons why I don’t like that person, having
dozens of imaginary conversations with them in which I reduce them to a quivering pile of tears, giving them a real reason to hate me. And, if I am being honest, in my worst moments, those imaginary conversations become all too real. And they don’t feel nearly as good as I thought they would.
The fact is, there will always be people who don’t like you. Sorry if this is news to you. But Jesus Himself was hated, so…
The hardest part, I think, is when the person who doesn’t like us is someone we like – a person we thought was our friend or someone we look up to. I could care less if some jerk hates me. But what if it’s a colleague, the parent of a student, or an authority figure?? If you’re a student, maybe it’s someone you thought was a friend in your class, or maybe a teacher or a youth leader. That hurts!
I’d like to say there’s a formula to make everyone like you. But there’s not. Sorry. There are, however, principles that can help us deal with being disliked.
Before we get all “woe is me”, we must remember that we are sinners. Jesus didn’t come for everyone but us. He came for all of us – because we are all in desperate need of a Savior. So examine yourself. That person who dislikes you may have good reason. Ask God to reveal any sin in your own life. Ask that person if you have offended him/her. Come to him/her humbly, seeking restoration. That person may or not be willing to forgive you (we’re getting to that). But there is great peace in taking the humble position and seeking to restore what is broken.
Pray for the “Hater”
This does not come naturally to most of us. I know when I feel hated, I want to hate right back. But the Bible is filled with verses telling us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. This can only be accomplished through the Holy Spirit working in us. In fact, I have found that God often allows “haters” in my life to draw me closer to Him. Because I hate it so much, being disliked gets my attention. Too much attention! I can become obsessive about it, thinking all the time about that situation. Every time, though, God gently reminds me it is HIS good opinion I need to focus on. It is HIS commands I need to follow. And those commands are not burdensome. Instead of obsessing over why that person dislikes me, I simply need to pray for them. God will let me know what to do next.
Try to Make Peace
Along with being a people-pleaser, I am also incredibly non-confrontational. I would rather walk away from a friendship than take steps to seek restoration. This is yet another area where God is continually working in me. We are called to do our best to be at peace with all men. So if I know someone is upset with me, I need to try and work things out. If someone has hurt me, I need to try and work things out. I don’t need to wait for them. I need to go to them – in humility and grace, with lots of prayer – and do all I can to make peace and restore what was broken.
Let It Go
You can can only do so much. You can’t make people like you. You can’t make people forgive you. You may take all of these steps and still find that person dislikes you. Then what? Let it go! SO much easier said than done, I know. But there it is. If you can say, in clear conscience, that you have done all you could, and that person is still unwilling to forgive or move on or admit their actions – then you are “all clear”. Don’t obsess. Find those who do like you and strengthen those relationships. Be in God’s word daily, in prayer continually, so you are pleasing the One who has given you life. Move on. That is possible – even with deep hurts. It takes time and prayer and supernatural strength, but it is possible. And you will come out of that hurt with more compassion, more humility, and a stronger relationship with the Friend who sticks closer than a brother.