“We played for you and you would not dance”: Dealing with impossible people

We’ve all known those people who cannot be pleased no matter what we do. They provide true ‘damned if I do, damned if I don’t’ situations. If you’re like me you tend to believe there exists some magic phrase, some perfect logic, argument, deed, expression that can be said or done that will bring the person around, but you find time and again that nothing seems to work.

“We played the flute for you,
And you did not dance;
We mourned to you,
And you did not lament.”

It helps in these situations, with these particular people, just before you go crazy, to remember that even if you were perfect you could not win. Once apon a time there was a perfect One who dealt with these exact situations and we have the privilege of seeing how he dealt with them. In fact, Christ dealt with impossible people so frequently that he addressed the generation as a whole:

“For John came neither eating or drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.” (Matt 11:18,19)

In short, no matter how one approaches them – whether one comes to them being too ascetic or too liberal – he or she will be rejected. They will not dance if you play the flute, and they will not lament if you mourn. One who is working on the side of true wisdom cannot expect to be justified by them:

“But wisdom is justified by her children.” (v.19)

If you are acting in accordance with wisdom then only wisdom, and those who know her, will justify you. Christ did not need justification from the blind and foolish. It is simply blind foolishness to require wisdom to be justified by the blind and foolish.

Read through the rest of chapter 11 of Matthew and you will find Christ thanking the Father that he has hidden the things of wisdom from the supposed wise and prudent of the age and has instead “revealed them unto babes” – those with childlike faith, who, in terms of true righteousness, are the truly wise and prudent.

If someone is steadfast in resisting wisdom, be slow in irritability and do not waste away in thoughts of what you should or could say (as I have a thousand times). Instead thank God (“thank God,” oh what priceless psychology!) for whatever work he might be doing in the person, and release yourself from the need to control their thoughts. I mean think about it, isn’t this the citadel of anxiety, this need to control others – what they think, what they believe, what they do? You have enough to worry about with your own psyche. If anybody knew just the right thing to say in order to control what others thought and did it was Christ. Yet did he ever venture to force wisdom on anyone? I have found it always extremely helpful to notice where I differ from Christ in my approach to things. Case in point, if he did not attempt to control impossible people why on earth do I think I can?

Thanks for reading.

One thought on ““We played for you and you would not dance”: Dealing with impossible people

  1. This is relief….wisdom to disengage by but not to abandon someone entirely or forever. There is always hope even if slight but a stubborn hog can not appreciate the jewlery of truth.

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