Not too long ago, I was watching from the sidelines as a friend of mine didn’t get her way. She desperately wanted things to go her way in the situation, but the others involved did not side with her. It was as if I could see her mind reeling, as she dealt with all the emotions that were consuming her, all at once. And as I watched her respond, I was thrust into questioning my own heart about how I might respond when I don’t get my way.
Frank Sinatra was awarded for his song “My Way” where he boasts in the fact that He did things his way. Today’s culture appeals to our self-centeredness. “It’s my way or the highway” has become a phrase that many businessmen wear proudly as a label to describe how they lead.
Isaiah 53:6 even says that we are all like sheep who have gone astray because we all want our own way. As Christians, we must constantly keep in check our desire to always want things our way. We would rather lead than be led. We would rather be followed than to follow. And while we usually blame it on the people who are opposing what we want to do, it really is a personal issue that many of us don’t take the time to evaluate.
James 4:1-3 says this, “What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you? You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.”
We as people are naturally bent towards wanting our own way and yet to surrender our lives completely to God means we give up the right to our own way. What if yielding our way to other people is practice for learning how to yield ourselves to the Almighty? I have both observed and personally wrestled with responses when not getting my own way. Some ways we may choose to respond are:
1. to POUT. Children are great at this. They want candy for breakfast and mom tells them “no”. So, they cross their little chubby arms and stick their bottom lip out with a scowl on their face that makes the Hulk look happy. It is funny and almost “cute” when a child does it. But when an adult does it? Not. So. Cute. And yet, how often when we don’t get our way do we resort to this? This is childish, immature, and certainly not God honoring. In truth, it is a manipulative tactic we often use to try to control another person, in an effort to get the other person to change their mind. If it worked for you as a kid, it becomes a pattern in your life that you continue on into your adult years. And while it might have worked as a child, as an adult, when others get wise to what you are doing, pouting quits working. And oftentimes, people get weary of that kind of treatment in the relationship and walk away.
2. to PUNISH. Your child wants to go with you on your date night with your husband. You tell the child that she must stay home with the babysitter. When you arrive back home, your child won’t look at you nor speak to you. And when you try to give them a hug, they jerk away from you with total rejection. You are hurt, embarrassed by all that saw it, and feeling intense rejection. Your child is “punishing” you for leaving them behind. Oh, how childish us adults can be! Have you ever punished someone? Have you ever felt the brunt of someone punishing you? It sure doesn’t do much for the relationship.
I have always come to regret ever choosing to pout or to punish. Even if I ended up getting my way by one of these methods, I don’t feel better by any stretch; and the relationships involved don’t seem to be the better for it either. The other person feels manipulated and controlled.
To pout or punish when you don’t get your way, is manipulation at its core.
3. to PROCESS. ~why am I so upset about this? ~what is something I can learn through this? ~is this the end of the world in the big scheme of things? ~is there another way I need to look at this? ~is how they are doing things wrong or just different?Processing your response to not getting your way is paramount to your spiritual growth. Taking a minute to process your feelings BEFORE you respond is even better! Most of the time, when we take the time to evaluate why we got so upset about not getting our way, we find it has very little to do with the other person and much more to do with our own selfishness and pride. We discover that our way might not have been the best way. We find out that it doesn’t really matter how something gets done , but just the fact that it got done. Humility and selflessness can be the fruit of our lives when we take the time to process. AND, it saves us from looking like a big ole baby.