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Pointers along the way #264

The problem with the others!
- Jacob Ninan

The biggest problem with the others is that they are so different from us! They talk and behave differently, and they can't even understand what we say and do! We keep hoping that they will 'come to see the light' and change. But that doesn't seem to happen even after long. Some people try to explain things and correct the others. But apparently all these others are so dumb and don't even seem to understand! Hopefully, sooner than later, a light comes on in our own mind that perhaps it would be easier if we try to change.

There are just a few places in the Bible where we are asked to admonish or exhort one another, and that too only in love. But think of the large number of passages which tell us that we need to and ought to change. The more we change our ways and allow the Holy Spirit to transform our lives into the character of Jesus, the happier we will be ourselves, and we will also know how to deal with the others.

We are all so different from one another. Our gender makes a huge difference in the way we think, behave and respond. On the top of that we have differences in our personality types which we are born with and our experiences during our growing stages. As a result each of us is a complex combination of characteristics that are not easy to figure out, let alone classify accurately. This makes inter-personal exchanges a great challenge. We grow up without realising these differences, and till light dawns on us we keep expecting that others are just like us. When we realise there are differences, we try to change them and bring them over to our ways. Usually it is only after a lot of failures in this that we come to understand wisdom, that we need to change our own approach to others if we want to live and work with them. Unfortunately many people don't realise this at all and make life miserable for themselves and for others by saying that others ought to accept them as they are, while they themselves don't make any efforts to accept the others!

Self-awareness is something that God gives to those who wait on Him (Ps.36:9). As we sit before Him with His word He shows us where we go wrong and what we can do about it (Is.30:21). In this process of learning we also begin to understand the others. We begin to see many faults which we were holding against others as limitations they are struggling under. Our judgments come crumbling down while empathy and concern take over. We learn to walk side by side with them, sharing our strengths and weaknesses, going towards the common goal of fulfilling God's plans.

This becomes a learning process. As we learn and make progress, the others are also changing--for the better or for the worse. We have to keep tuning our approach or even change it sometimes if we are to work with them successfully.

We could say, "How blessed is the man who accepts others and adapts to them. He will also pass on his blessings to them" (Ro.15:7).