I have heard people say, many times and in different ways, “This is who I am. People can like me or not.” One of my favorite interpretations may be my late Grandpa’s version-“He’s got a real ‘go to hell’ attitude. If you don’t like it, you can go to hell.’” Maybe not the most appropriate, but my grandpa wasn’t known for his propriety. He was known for cleverly saying what other people were thinking, but in such a way that you laughed at yourself. But this post isn’t about my grandpa. Though this quote highlights the fact that rarely a day goes by that I am not reminded of him in some way-whether in my thoughts or actions.
Back to my point. I have actually said versions of that. I used to be a great deal more concerned about what people thought of me. I also used to keep much of myself behind a wall, worried that if people got to know me really, they wouldn’t stick around long. I’d like to say that I have completely overcome all of that, but I still continue to work it out. This is why I have said in recent years things like, “They’ll either like me, or they won’t.”
While I completely agree that there is validity in that statement, I don’t think that it can necessarily be a hard and fast rule. Let’s see if I can make my point this way. I had someone say to me recently that I “used to allow myself to be offended by” things they would say. Now, unless I am hearing that wrong, there is absolutely no responsibility on that person’s part. It couldn’t possibly be that he/she came across harshly, or maybe said something he/she shouldn’t have, or at least in a way that he/she shouldn’t have said it.
It got me thinking about our approach with people. Most people act a little differently depending on who they are with. They know what specific people will and will not appreciate, what may or may not offend people, and how they may need to act to keep the peace. If done correctly, it isn’t an issue of not being true to who we are. It is actually Biblical. Romans 12:18 reads, “If it is possible, as much as it depends on you, live peaceably with all people.” If there is someone we simply cannot get along with, or continue to offend, the answer is to make sure it is in no way our faults.
It may take a little finesse on our part to get along with certain people. “I’m not changing who I am just to get along with someone,” people might say. I think we all have different aspects of our personality that come out at different times. God spoke to people in many different ways. He spoke to Moses in huge spectacular ways. Yet, he spoke to Elijah in a gentle voice. In which case was God not being true to Himself? If God altered His approach based on who He was speaking to, and how He believed they would respond, shouldn’t we do the same?