I commented on an Fb friend’s post yesterday that said “if Father accepts me for who I am, why is it others try to make me feel like I need to meet their expectations?” I suspect that’s a question many can identify with to some degree.
When others (individuals or groups of people) try to sculpt our life by their expectations whether implied or often outright vocalized, that's called “Behavior Modification”. People exert that upon you for THEIR benefit. Somehow they feel it makes it easier for them to tolerate your difference while going through life next to you. It's clearly not God's idea.
Jesus moves right in where ever He is welcomed, and our life begins to radically transform from the inside out. He is not put off by the disheveled mess our lives may be in. Behavior modification is an external effort that doesn't give a rip if you ever change inside, as long as they don't have to see it. They do not want to be embarrassed by your life.
Understanding the root of such control is a start, but if you’ve ever been in relationship with a control freak, you know it’s easier to straighten out a piece of wrinkled contact paper than extricate yourself from a controlling person’s grip. That initial Fb post brought up a couple other questions.
· What is our response in the Spirit to a control freak’s kind of behavior?
· What if loved ones are oblivious to the pressure they apply on you?
· If you confront them they just can't seem to take that much honesty.
· How do we handle this with integrity of heart towards those we love?
A few thoughts regarding those questions and our response: Our response "in the spirit" is probably a bit easier than our reaction in the flesh. Some people can not comprehend stress; they're simply "carriers" of it. Like a tornado, they seem to live oblivious to the wake of hurt they leave in their path.
As far as confronting them and their inability to “take that much honesty” Pro.27:6 says “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” How do some people grow up to be crabby old busy-bodies? Because no one loved them enough to call them out on it (it’s scary I know, been there – done that, got the bloody T-shirt).
A person who demands behavior modification from another is likely adept at manipulation. The fact they don't seem to be able to "take that much honesty" is an expression of their manipulative prowess. It’s been my experience you can not negotiate with a manipulative controlling spirit. They can tolerate confrontation about as well as you can tolerate their control – it’s a toss, go for it.
Ro.12:2 in the JB Phillips translation reads: “Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould, but let God re-make you so that your whole attitude of mind is changed.”
The best cure for coming out from under the control of Behavior Modification is a secure sense of your identity in Jesus Christ. That’s not a Christianese cliché, but rather a vital realization. Until you are completely convinced of whom you are in Jesus and who He is in you, you are as vulnerable as a dingy in a perfect storm. You’ll be tossed by the every whim of others who wield influence over your life.
It didn’t seem to be an issue for Jesus hanging with imperfect people that the religious leaders called riff-raff. And they didn’t mind hanging around the Son of God. Why? Because when a person realizes they’re accepted, and on what basis they are accepted, the stress is off, and any change needed is a product of the love of God in their heart, NOT external behavior modification. Be transformed! He’s just that into you.