One man tells me I am insane. Another man tells me I am judging the spirituality of his friend. Another man tells me that I am not needed as a teacher of a Sunday School class although I had prepared lesson plans to do so. And still another is angry with me for telling him the truth about how he treats others. What do all these things have in common? Fortunately for me, they are all men; I would hate to have to deal with the "he's a bully toward women" thing. And, they also involve me. Poor me! "Nobody loves me; everybody hates me; I'm just going to go out and eat worms." I don't get that one either, but my wife likes to say it.
My natural tendency is to get really depressed when someone is upset with me. I suppose one never gets over being told as a child that their mother did not love them, and as a teenager that their dad and step-mother wanted them out of their house. Rejection, even the thought that someone does not like me, devastates me. I know, that is pretty pathetic, and I need to grow up, but it is a part of me and probably will be until I am with the Lord. Unfortunately, it is much of who I am as a person.
Here is how I deal with it. First, I remind myself that even Jesus had those who did not like Him. I am not one of them, by the way. In fact, it is just the opposite; I love Him because He first loved me (1 Jn. 4:19). Second, it could be much worse; I could be in a situation like Job. I could be living in a place where I constantly had to fear for my life. I could be in a place where no one ever said a kind word or thanked me for being a blessing to them. Compared to the vast majority of the world's population, I pretty much "have it made."
Facing criticism and rejection have some positive benefits, as well. They cause me to evaluate myself; am I failing as a Christian? Did I say or act in such a way as to warrant such a response? If so, how should I have acted? I have to ask myself, "Am I just being paranoid?" It certainly never hurts us to do a little soul-searching; who knows, I could even become a better person as the result.
Another benefit to being in negative situations is that they cause us to pray more earnestly. I can honestly say that I have prayed more for these four men as a result of the "coincidental convergence" of negativity. In fact, because I know that "...we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places" (Eph. 6:12), and my enemy is not man, but Satan, all I have to do is allow Jesus to deal with him. (I find it humorous, and strangely ironic, that 6/12 is the name of a mosquito repellent.) By praying and turning these kinds of situations over to the Lord, we sort of become "spiritual counter-punchers! And best of all, we know how the fight turns out; we win! Praise the Lord!