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August 29, 2012 - Misophonia, Anyone?
By Jerry D. Scott
Recently, 20/20 aired a report on misophonia. Neurologists described patients with the disorder becoming annoyed, or even enraged, by such ordinary sounds as other people eating, breathing, or coughing; certain consonants; or repetitive sounds. People with misophonia may be diagnosed with mood or anxiety disorders as well as obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Even if we do not have this disorder, we all suffer from some level of personal intolerance. We know people who set our teeth on edge. Just the sound of their voice is as grating as fingernails dragged on a blackboard! Whatever triggers the irritation, left unexamined or unchallenged, it can quickly grow into offense, and then into a toxic situation.
We don’t have to have a neurological disorder for others to anger us. Human relationships are complex. Why do some people have such an ability to push our buttons? Why is that when “that person” appears, our blood pressure goes up along with feelings of anxiety or anger? Do any of the following connect with you?
... a neighbor and his piles of junk scattered around his yard.
... a co-worker who expects everybody else on the team to carry her load as she whines about how hard life is for her.
... that person who is the perpetual “star” in his own show, grabbing the spotlight of recognition.
... older relatives or friends who take the liberty to tell you how badly you are failing as a parent.
So, what’s the natural way to deal with irritating people? You can shut them out! Just ignore them and hope they go away. If you see their number on caller ID, let the voicemail take the call. Build a fence so you can’t see that neighbor’s junk. You could choose to move three states from your family to prevent them from meddling in your life. These all work fairly well, if our goal is to insulate ourselves.
But are those choices Jesus wants us to make? He told us exactly how we are to relate to others, even the difficult people in this world. Take a look:
“But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.
“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ lend to ‘sinners,’ expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:27-36, NIV).
Love, generosity, mercy! Tough words, aren’t they? Jesus gives us no excuse to be unkind, critical or even neutral! He orders us to take active steps to love those people we naturally would avoid. He shows us how to start — with prayer. Not the “get ’em, God” prayers we are tempted to pray, either. Supernatural, Holy Spirit-inspired love starts with: “Lord, help me to understand them, to know how to meet their needs, to have the right words that help them grow in grace, to be a loving friend to them today.”
It is next to impossible to continue to hate someone for whom you are actively praying every day. Difficult people provide us with an opportunity to be a servant. They serve God’s purposes in our lives by teaching us to surrender our rights, drop our defenses, and do what needs to be done for others.
Are you feeling anger or even outright hostility toward another person? How about confessing that feeling to God, without excuse or justification right now? Tell Him how you feel and ask Him to change your heart. Then, take that step of praying for that person you really do not like. Keep at it. In time, you will discover that the best change happened in you!
Here’s a word from the Word. “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8).
— Jerry D. Scott is senior pastor at Faith Discovery Church (Assemblies of God) in Washington, N.J.
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