Surviving Irritating Faults in People we Love or Admire

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In my younger days, I wanted to read biographies of great Christians, to learn the secret of their greatness so I could imitate them. I read about St. Augustine, St Francis of Assisi, George Mueller, and others. What I learned shocked me. They all had imperfect lives, flaws in their character, or struggles with weaknesses that made them seem less great.

My grandson imitates things I do. If he sees me putting my arm over the back of a chair, he does the same. If I walk or talk a certain way, he mimics me. Children idolize their parents.

My grandson imitates things I do. If he sees me putting my arm over the back of a chair, he does the same. If I walk or talk a certain way, he mimics me. Children idolize their parents. They often see adults as persons who can do no wrong. Many people idolize a great athlete or movie star. Friendships are a blessing for anyone who finds a good and loyal friend in whom they can confide. Someday, my grandson will notice imperfections in me, children will see the faults of their parents, people we idolize will let us down, and friendships may fail by a hurtful act from the one we thought was our friend.

When two people marry, there is no way each can know all there is to know about the other. That’s why there is a saying that love is blind. Controversy occurs after marriage when imperfections rise to the surface. Too often, over time, love fades away into resentment. Love and respect lessens, and doubts creep in about whether this was the right person to be with. Sven Wahlroos, a family counselor and psychologist, said that persons close to us see things about us that we cannot or are unwilling to see. He said that if couples would listen to each other, he would have a lot less counselling to do.

How do we preserve our love, respect, and admiration in the face of words or actions that bother us?

Imperfections in people we love or respect can cause us to think less of them. Irritating or hurtful behaviors threaten to turn into feelings of dislike, causing our relationship with the other to crumble into hurt, anger and parting of ways. How do we preserve our love, respect, and admiration in the face of words or actions that bother us?

We need to be aware of this danger before we let the relationship become irreparable. If we want our love to grow instead of dissipate, we need to decide to work on the relationship, but it takes both parties to do it. Each must be open to see his or her imperfections and be willing to change. If we are to be successful, we must be willing for the help of others. Love means nothing if each is not able or willing to tell the other their faults, and if each is not grateful for the help to become a better person. This is not an easy task, in fact, we may find it impossible in our defensive and prideful humanness, but we must do what is necessary if we would survive temptations to let others’ faults ruin a relationship.

One’s personality is the uniqueness of who they are, and is not likely to change, but character traits can change.

This does not mean we should tell everything to another about their faults. There are factors to consider. What is the ability of the other to handle criticism? How will it affect them, especially if they have had a bad past that has not been adequately worked out. One must also be careful to distinguish between personality and character faults. One’s personality is the uniqueness of who they are, and is not likely to change, but character traits can change. Just because we do not like irritating character flaws does not mean we cannot learn to love and appreciate the good things we like about their personality. It’s a great achievement if we can smile about who they are, instead of being irritated by imperfect behaviors.

Jesus understands our problem. He survived the irritating faults of his closest disciples. They were slow learners, misunderstanding his purpose and mission, argumentative among themselves, exhibiting wrong attitudes and sinful behaviors, self-centered, and lacking faith in him. He knew the feelings of disappointment, frustration, and betrayal. With gentleness and calmness, when a fault appeared, he had something to say to help them know what needed to change. In spite of it all, he still wanted to be with them, and he was confident they would become new and better persons. His love enables them change.

Being in relationship with Jesus gives us the best example and empowerment we could have. In spite of our wrong attitudes and failures, he still wants to be with us. He believes in us. I have discovered through repeated failures, that in spite of my good intentions, that I cannot change and be the kind of person I need to be. However, when Christ lives in me, the one who loved me and gave his life for me, he empowers me to progress at being like him.

Jesus is the master lover. He once spoke to a woman who suffered five failed relationships and told her that if she knew the gift of God and who he was, she would ask him and he would give her what she needed (John 4:10). Jesus came to heal our relationships and us. When we receive and cooperate with his Spirit of love (Romans 5:5), we rise above allowing the faults of others to be the cause of dismantling our relationships.

 

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Jay Ashbaucher
Jay Ashbaucher is a native of Northwest Ohio and is currently a retired pastor and published author. He holds a Master of Divinity degree from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, and has been a pastor and teacher in Montana for over 44 years. Jay taught grief classes in a hospital setting, and worked for twenty years as a fifth-step counselor and lecturer in an alcoholic-drug treatment center getting to know the hearts of people struggling to get well. While pastoring in Montana, he had enjoyed racquetball, hunting, fishing, and traveling the Big Sky State. Now living in Southeast Michigan, Jay enjoys his family, reading, hiking, golf, time with friends, and time with his fun-to-be-with wife. They have two happily married children and seven grandchildren.