Relationships and people can be hard work.
If you’ve had any sort of relationship, whether it be parent and child, siblings, friendship, partners etc. you would have at some point experienced some form of conflict or misunderstanding. Maybe you have only had some mild disagreements that don’t even register. If that’s you, you are fortunate. For the rest of us though, we’ve likely had to navigate some strong disagreements and work through the consequences of fractured or broken relationships, heartache, anger and disappointment.
Sometimes, the cause of the disagreement or breakdown is our fault, which can be hard to work through. But what about when it’s not our fault? What about when people criticise you and accuse you of things that are just untrue? How do we deal with people that are just intent on saying and believing things about us that are just not true or right? In those instances, it can be even harder to deal with because you know it’s not true, but you can’t stop it.
As someone with a really strong justice bone, it is something I have struggled with. However, I read a quote a little while ago by Dr. Caroline Leaf that said, “Sometimes you will be the villain in someone else’s narrative and you need to become OK with this. But you are not responsible for their version, perceptions, or expectations of you. Don’t believe their idea of you over who you really are.”
It’s a profound statement and one that has been swirling around my mind since I first read it. As I’ve reflected on it, I’ve come to see how true that statement is. At some point, we will be the villain in someone else’s story. Whether their version of us is true or not doesn’t really matter; as far as they are concerned, we are the villain. And the reality is that there is not much we can do about it. We can try and defend ourselves against it, or try reason with the person and get them to see the truth. But I’ve dealt with enough people to know that some people’s minds can’t be changed.
But as the quote says, we need to be OK with this. And we do, for a couple of reasons. Firstly, and most importantly, we need to be OK with this otherwise it will start to influence our identity and how we see ourselves. Our identity should never be set by anyone other than the One who made us. And according to God, we are not a villain or a nuisance or a problem like some may like to say. We are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:13-14) by the Creator of the universe. We are abundantly loved by God. In His Word we read in Zephaniah 3:17, “He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” That’s who we are; fearfully and wonderfully made. Loved by a God who delights in us and sings over us.
Your identity is not based on what someone thinks of you. It is also not based on your mistakes. It is based on what God says about you. And when God made you, He didn’t make a mistake. He made you with love. A love so strong that he sent his Son to die for you (John 3:16). That’s who we are. That’s who you are. Loved and adored.
The second reason we need to be OK with being the villain in someone else’s story is because some people will just be determined to make you the villain. They will be set on convincing themselves and the world around them that you’re the problem. And when people do that, it says more about them then it does about you. Like I said, some people’s minds can’t be changed, and that’s because they don’t want to change it. Whether it be because they are hurt by something you said or did, or because they are insecure and don’t want to face their own issues and fears, they have determined to make you the villain and themselves the victim.
As hard as it is to let it go, the best thing to do is to let them go because it’s just not worth it. I’ve come to realise that it isn’t actually worth the battle because these people choose to be this way. They choose to be a victim and blame others for their pain and insecurities. And people like that don’t want to change.
Again, I have a strong justice bone that demands justice when things aren’t right. I want to defend when people say lies about me or people that I love. But another thing I have realised is that no one can defend me and bring about justice like God can. He is the One that can reveal the truth that people try to hide. He is the One that sees exactly what happened in any given situation and can bring about truth, restoration and healing. And He is the one that can, and will defend me. 1 Peter 2:23 tells us, “When they hurled their insults at him (Jesus), he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.” Instead, Jesus remained silent and put his trust in God to defend him. He easily could have defended Himself. After all, he’s Jesus, and could command a legion of angels to fight for him (Matthew 26:52-53) if needed. But he didn’t. He let them say what they wanted and trusted that God would fight for him. And He did.
And He will fight for you, too. He will defend you in the face of lies and false accusations. When the lies come up against you, and people attack your character and integrity, trust that God sees and hears. Psalm 94:9-11 says, ‘Does he who fashioned the ear not hear? Does he who formed the eye not see? Does he who disciplines nations not punish? Does he who teaches mankind lack knowledge? The Lord knows all human plans; he knows that they are futile.’ God sees and hears everything. Nothing is hidden from him, including the lies and attacks that come against you. People may think they’re getting away with things or think they can lie and no one will know. But God knows and God sees. But we need to remember that he is a God of mercy and justice that works to his own timeline. And in his time he will bring about both justice and mercy.
Whether you are currently facing an attack on your character, have faced one, or are going to face one, put your trust in Him to defend you. And be OK with what other people think and say about you. Because at the end of the day, the One that made you is the only One who can tell you who you are. Every other opinion is either an encouragement (if it’s a good one) or a distraction and an attempt to derail your identity. Don’t let the lies and opinions of others shift your eyes from the truth; you were created by a loving God who adores you and you are amazing.