Table of Contents
If You Hate Me
What happens when we arrive at college, and someone just does not like us? When no matter how much we try, no matter how kind we are, no matter what we put on the table, they don’t like us? It can be really hard to approach the topic of “if you hate me” with a healthy response of “it’s okay.”
You Can’t Please Everyone
We often want to fix what isn’t liked or change people’s mind because, in some way, it’s validating to have people like us. Let me be clear: it is not wrong to like being liked. That’s completely natural. What is wrong is to base our self-worth and personality, who we are, on other’s opinions of us. We are not the sum of the people who like us. We are not here to be liked by people.
It’s easy to say that, to know it’s true, but not to actually believe it when we are put in a situation where we just can’t win someone over. It can hurt, it feels like rejection, and in a way, it is. But understand, your worth is not dependent on someone else’s opinion or emotional response to you based on things you have nothing to do with.
Confused? There are a lot of things that go into why someone likes or dislikes another person. Envy, for example. Maybe they are jealous of your laugh, your hair, your skin, your presence, etc. These are things that make you who you are. Some of these are also things that you have no control over, but because of them someone may dislike you.
Personal experiences also play a large part in someone’s perspective of you. This can mean things they’ve heard about you, or it can be experiences from their past with people that you remind them of—again, completely out of your control and not based on anything you’ve done. Seem unreasonable? Sure is, but people are emotional and flawed.
It’s pretty impossible to understand and predict all the things that go into someone liking or disliking you. It’s absolutely impossible to appeal to all those things for every person you meet. You can’t please everyone. Let me say it again: You CAN’T please everyone.
And coming to terms with that can really suck. There will always be people who just don’t like us, for whatever reason, and we have to be okay with it. We have to be able to say, “it’s okay if you hate me.” If we try to be everything, for everyone, in order to be liked, we will fail. Here’s why: We aren’t ourselves if we change to be liked by someone else.
Maybe they’ll like the version of you that you put up for them, but they still won’t like you. If you change who you are to be liked by someone else, you lose any chance of a genuine connection, because they don’t like you for you, they like you for catering to them. And you run the risk of losing the people who do like you for who you are.
For the very reason that one person dislikes or hates you, another person likes or loves you. You can’t please everyone when everyone has different perspectives, opinions, and experiences that define how they relate to others. We don’t all want, or even appreciate the same things. And, by the way, we don’t like everyone we meet, so why do we care if everyone who meets us likes us?
Some people will hate us for just being us, and some people will hate us for our faith. Jesus knew what people are like. He tells us several times to expect that we will be hated on his account:
18 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” John 15:18-19 (NIV)
It’s a hard reality to be faced with, but some people will not care about who you are, how you behave, or anything that you do—only that you are Christian, and they will hate you for it. Understand, it’s not a reflection of anything you’ve done, necessarily, and it’s not something that you deserve. The world is broken, and just as people hated Jesus, the savior of the world and the son of God, they’ll hate us for our faith in Him.
Learn to Let It Go
Learning to let it go is easier said than done, especially for those of us who tend to be people pleasers. It’s not a bad thing to want others to be happy, but it can become a bad thing when that takes priority over our health, over truth, and over obedience to God. When it comes to “if you hate me” the answer should not be “I’ll do anything to fix it.”
Like we’ve talked about, if someone hates us for our faith, for things that make us who we are, or just “because they do,” we have to be able to let it go. It’s really difficult when we want to fix things and to be liked, but we have to recognize that sometimes we are just not someone’s cup of tea. That doesn’t mean we aren’t likeable, and it doesn’t mean that we aren’t fun.
Everyone has their own tastes—some people like salty food, some are fonder of sweet stuff, and some like spinach (not many). We can’t be every flavor, because honestly, the combination of every flavor would be disgusting. The same is true when it comes to personality traits and the things people look for in friends; the combination of everything would make a pretty disturbing and contradictory person. Learn to accept that you can’t please everyone and be okay with it.
If someone just hates you to hate you, that really says a lot more about them than it does about you. Pray for them, love them from a distance, and allow them to have the space they need from you and focus on the friendships that encourage and validate who you are and the relationship that you have with Christ.
Biblical Conflict Resolution
There is an exception to the rule above. If the reason that someone does not like you or hates you is because of something you have done to them, some sort of biblical conflict resolution should take place. There is a difference between someone not liking the way you are and someone not liking something you have done.
If you’ve offended someone, said something unkind to them, hurt their feeling, and so on, that sort of thing requires some attention and a conversation. Matthew 5 tells us that we should be reconciled to those that have something against us or that we are in conflict with (Matt. 5:23-24). It can be really unpleasant, and it’s often a battle with our pride to choose biblical conflict resolution, especially if we don’t think we did anything wrong.
As with the many different things that go into someone liking or disliking you, we have to remember that a person is made up of so many different experiences and perspectives that color how they perceive actions, words, and intentions. You may do something and think of it as nothing, but perhaps an experience in their life tells them it means something else.
Intentional? No. But it could still have hurt them. Take time to sit down and ask for their perspective, ask what happened and how they interpreted it. While they explain, don’t interrupt. Just listen. Often, just listening, trying to understand, and apologizing even if it wasn’t your intention to harm them yields way better results than trying to defend your perspective first.
What about those that hate us but won’t listen? Sometimes, people are unwilling to forgive. You are only accountable for your part in reconciliation and forgiveness. You’ve gone to them to talk, you’ve apologized and explained, you’ve forgiven when no apology was made—and they still hate you, they won’t let it go. Okay—you’ve done what you can.
Romans 12:18 tells us, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” God knows that people are not as forgiving as He is. He knows they can be unreasonable and imperfect. He doesn’t hold you accountable for their part in reconciliation. “As far as it depends on you” means you do what you need to, and the rest is up to them.
Love vs Like
“It’s okay if you hate me… I’m still going to love you.” Even when people don’t like us, hate us, or won’t forgive us, we are still called to love. It’s important to draw a distinction between love vs like. To like someone is based on emotions, perspectives, chemistry, and appeal. Liking someone is reaction to who they are.
Love is a choice. Love is an action. As we said, you can’t please everyone, and, honestly, everyone can’t please us. We aren’t always going to like everyone, but we are called to love everyone. What does that mean? It means that not everyone is going to be your friend, but you treat them the way you would want to be treated anyway. For reference, 1 Corinthians 13 gives some insight into what love is.
Love vs like means understanding that even those that hate us are meant to be loved by us. We don’t have to like them, we are not asked to hang out with them, and we do not need to be their best friend. But we do need to love them, forgive them, show grace where we can, and pray for them. That’s a decision we have to make every day.
This is absolutely something that you will have to deal with in college—but it isn’t going to end in college. Learning to say, “It’s okay if you hate me” and loving them anyway is something that will continue throughout the rest of your life. And it’ll suck sometimes; sometimes it’ll be the people we really wanted in our life. It’ll hurt—but it’ll heal too.
Remember, your worth isn’t in the number of people who like you. Jesus loves you, enough to die for you—says a lot more about your worth than anything else could. Sometimes, people just don’t like us, and that’s okay. There will be people who like us, and who love us, and we focus on those relationships and our relationship with Christ. And, above all like and dislike, choose to love.
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