Life is full of people who rub us the wrong way. Whether it’s within our family, workplace, church, or community, we’ve all encountered at least one person who drives us absolutely crazy. For me I have several that I see regularly at the prison that I serve at. Regardless of all my attempts to be gracious to them they often return my efforts with sly insults. Recently their annoying and hurtful habits have been challenging to me in the way that I relate to them.
As Christians, how do we cope with these difficult people? Christ calls us to love selflessly and ceaselessly. So are we just supposed to force a smile and fake a laugh, while inside we’re cringing or crying or wanting to flee? How can we possibly be genuine with all these negative emotions broiling just beneath the surface?
I know that I definitely don’t have all the answers but I have come to an understanding that I cannot love the unlovable on my own. Our broken, sinful hearts aren’t capable of truly loving people sacrificially. The only true source of compassion, strength, and love is God. If we embrace and rely completely on God’s love and forgiveness for us, we can then draw from his infinite provision and begin to love others more fervently and sincerely even when they seem unlovable.
My frustration has led me to pray for the Holy Spirit’s intervention in my interactions with them. Even though they tend to be difficult they still deserve my love. I pray that my intentional kindness towards them would portray the gospel to them. I have also come to respect the fact that I never know the persons whole story. Knowing the hardships in someone’s life can give you an entirely new perspective and understanding of their personality. But if I remember that they, too, have felt the sting of injustice, the burden of anxiety, and the ache of emptiness, perhaps I won’t be so quick to feel anger and annoyance. I also always try to remember that they are God’s precious creation and created in God’s image just like each one of us.
Just like me I’m sure you have these people in your life and my encouragement in this blog post is to not give up loving even if they don’t receive you! Christ has taught us to not only outwardly treat them with kindness and respect, but to also view them through his eyes— with understanding and compassion. His example and transforming power in our lives will equip us to go out and love as he loved!