Dr. Wall looks at how hard it is to be nice to people who look down on us. It’s really the only option, though, unless we want to go to therapy forever.
Do not let anyone despise you.
Titus 2:15 (NIV)
Let no one put you down.
Titus 2:15 (The Message)
It’s a good thing people don’t apply the above verse to their lives or I’d be out of business. This verse isn’t saying that if someone is putting you down, that it is your job to set them straight. Your life isn’t a reality show. Just because pretty much everyone that’s ever been on a reality show is quick to defend themselves and get mad if anyone else on the reality show even looks at them askance, doesn’t mean that this is the example we are to follow. Think of all the people that will put you down, ignore you, and scoff at you in your life time: family members, teachers, classmates, workmates, bosses, clients, neighbors, church folk, store clerks, mother-in-laws, daughter-in-laws, his X, her kids. The list is endless. If The Apostle Paul meant that you had to straighten everyone out who did that, your life would be an endless YouTube video with you swearing and ahollerin’ in a never-ending loop. This would make great video. It wouldn’t do much to endear others to you. Of course, if you despised somebody like that after they despised you, then they would be compelled to despise you some more and then you’d have to despise them again and on and on we go in a spiral of despair.
Paul isn’t quite so shallow. I think he’s saying instead that:
When (not IF!) someone despises you, don’t let it get to you.
Don’t despise them back.
Take the high road.
Don’t stoop to their level.
Somebody has to be mature here.
But I fear this is not the norm. We have this penchant to defend ourselves, to fight back, to straighten others out.
Yeah, like that works. If someone despises you, they aren’t interested in your opinion! They despise you, remember? So if you are attempting to straighten them out all you are doing is giving them more reasons to despise you.
And adding more wood to the fire.
But this is a hard thing to not to do. It’s not easy turning the other cheek. If you turn the other cheek, the battle can end.
Look at this way:
You are mean to me; I am mean to you; you are meaner to me; I am meaner to you, and on and on forever, amen.
You are mean to me; I am nice to you. You are meaner to me (didn’t he get my point?); I am nicer to you. You are mean to me; I am nice to you. You aren’t quite so mean to me; I am nice to you. You are just a tad mean to me; I am nice to you. You aren’t mean to me; I am nice to you. You are nice to me?
Maybe not, but it’s worth a shot. It’s not my job to get you to like me. It’s my job to do the right thing. No matter what. I can’t blame you. I am responsible for my actions.
But this isn’t an easy thing to get across in therapy, especially if the despiser is a mother-in-law or a spouse’s X. It’ll take me a long, long time to convince you this is the way to go.
As my wife says,
Your clients need to come see you for YEARS.