Are you tiptoeing around some of the people in your life or perhaps being overly cautious with your health, or your job? Do you ever deal with people with whom you have a close relationship and love dearly, but you always feel like you’re walking on eggshells whenever you are with them?
Maybe they are overly sensitive, or they have a long memory of all they have done for you and high expectations of how much you should be doing for them. How can we let them know of the immeasurable love that we have for them, in spite of our differences? We all have challenging days or weeks when we are simply unable to reach out to everyone and meet their expectations. At times, we are emotionally and physically all over the place and it’s hard to fulfill everyone’s demands.
The question is: How do we control our emotions? Since God created us in His image, He created us as emotional beings. If we carefully pay attention, we find God’s emotions in His word. We share some of His emotions: love, joy, happiness, etc. Some of our emotions are based on truth and some others are false or misleading. Nevertheless, our emotions reveal what is in our hearts. Whenever my eyes turn away from the Lord, I experience negative emotions like fear, resentment or confusion. These are all based on false beliefs. God is in control of our lives, but He gives us free will to manage our emotions.
Speaking of emotions; for some of us, the strongest food cravings hit when we are at our lowest point emotionally. This is true for me! Sometimes, when I see chaos around me and have no control over my circumstances, I have a tendency to turn to food for comfort. Since I have food allergies, eating the wrong food can sabotage my health. I need to be watchful of what I eat. I have been tiptoeing (walking on eggshells) around my health for the past few years. It is not easy, but when I see young children suffering with food or environmental allergies, it puts my own struggle into perspective. It is heartbreaking to watch them suffer and for some, it can be life-threatening. They truly have to be extra vigilant.
In addition to being watchful of harmful surroundings, how do we deal with those who are difficult, hyper-sensitive or easily angered? Do we ignore their behavior and distance ourselves from them, or do we continue walking on eggshells? We all know of people like this – we can practically hear the eggshells cracking just thinking about them!
Obviously, none of us are perfect. We have all been difficult at one time or another. But we are called to deal with difficult people with humility and gentleness. We all have people in our lives that push our buttons and bring out the worst in us.
I used to be intolerant of those who were negative, stubborn, or overly-sensitive. I had little patience for people who see the glass as half empty (those who always read negativity between the lines of conversation). But I have learned to let go as much possible, by reminding myself how Jesus dealt with the most difficult people during His time on earth. Sometimes He answered the Pharisees’ and religious teachers’ nonsensical questions with raw admonition. But usually He answered their question with a question, and ultimately pointed them to scripture. Here is one example:
(Matthew 15:1-3) Then some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus from Jerusalem and asked, “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don’t wash their hands before they eat!” Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition?”
The Pharisees and the teachers of the law came to scrutinize Jesus’ activities. For hundreds of years religious traditions had been added to God’s laws. Sadly, the Pharisees and teachers of the law considered their traditions equally, if not more important than God’s word. Many traditions are not bad in themselves. Certain religious traditions can add richness and meaning to life. But as Jesus tells us through this verse, we must not assume that because our traditions have been practiced for years, they should be equated with God’s law. The word of God doesn’t need additions. Traditions should help us to understand God’s laws better, not become laws themselves.
In the next verse we see again how He dealt with a similar situation.
(Matthew 9:14-15) Then John’s disciples came and asked him, “How is it that we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them?”
At other times Jesus was silent, letting quietness allow people to think about their own beliefs, sins, and actions. There is a time to speak and a time to keep silent. At times it’s a struggle to stay quiet. But if you follow God’s leading, you can trust and expect that the Lord will make His will known to you as you are dealing with difficult people.
God’s word can be empowering, enabling us either to speak or stay quiet, possibly engaging in silent prayer while we are having that unreasonable, redundant and seemingly fruitless conversation with someone. I have experienced unpleasant moments, while simultaneously being in awe of how the Lord intervened in situations with certain people.
Recently, I noticed a conversation was heading down a familiar path – a place where no good would emerge, and where everyone was soon going to be upset. Quickly I reached out and put my hand over my Bible which was lying on the kitchen table. I started praying silently as this unpleasant conversation progressed. I prayed, “Lord Jesus, please come at once and intercede. I release everything into Your hand.” All of the sudden, the conversation took a completely different direction, with no one remembering what we had just been talking about! Amazing!!! I was in awe.
Yes, we must all at times walk cautiously with people or circumstances, just as others are at times careful of our overly sensitive behavior. In either case we are not alone. God is always with us. God Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” This verse encourages us to ask for strength in trying times:
(Hebrews 13:5) “ I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13)
All we need to do is to shift our attention from the person or circumstance to the One who is always ready to help us in moment of need – it doesn’t matter if the issue is small or big, just pray. Prayer is the strongest weapon and can overcome any difficult situation. We affirm our trust in God through silent or spoken prayers and wait expectantly for Him to rescue us.