Loving Difficult People
I was talking to a therapist about someone who tries to show love to others, but just often ends up hurting the ones he/she loves. This person will give compliments and affection and gifts, but makes so many critical remarks that it cancels out any goodwill and pushes the other person farther away and creates resentments. The therapist said, “Not everybody has the capacity to love others well.”
That was one of those moments of epiphany. I was wanting to “fix” the other person. I’m a teacher by profession and a reformer by nature, so I wanted to fix the situation and change the other person. And I’ve tried in the past. I realized at that moment that’s not my job. Nor the job of the people he/she hurts, really. It’s God’s job.
My job is to love this person well. That’s the hard thing God is asking me to do. I don’t think she/he can “hear” advice or correction without feeling judged or misunderstood. She/he has to FEEL loved first. Then maybe experiencing that love will be enough to teach the other person how to do it, too.
I don’t yet know what all will be involved in loving this person well. I know it involves spending significant quality time and maybe participating in recreational activities that wouldn’t be my first pick. It will involve overlooking thoughtless remarks. It will require showing genuine enjoyment in their company. But these surely aren’t terrible sacrifices. If God can empower us to love our enemies, He can certainly enable us to love our close friends/family who wear on us.
Grace be to you this Christmas as you learn to love the difficult people well.
Romans 12:9,10,14 “Love must be sincere. . . . Honor one another above yourselves. . . . Bless those who persecute you.”