Luke 6:32 says “If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that? Even sinners love those who love them.”
For most of us, it’s easy to be loving and kind when people are kind to us. Loving difficult people, on the other hand, is much more challenging.
Whether it’s your sister-in-law, your parent, your coworker, or someone else, we all have someone in our lives who is difficult to get along with at all, let alone love.
You know who I’m talking about. That person who pushes your buttons, gets under your skin, and always says or does the “wrong” thing.
You know you shouldn’t let that person get to you and you want to be kind, but how do you actually achieve that when the difficult person is constantly getting on your nerves?
SEARCH FOR THE GOOD
As challenging as this can be to accept, we do not have control over how other people behave. Allow the difficult person to be who they are. Do not expect them to change or to be someone else.
Try to find the good in them. Even the most challenging people have good qualities. It may take some time for you to find it (especially if you’re used to thinking negative thoughts about this person). That’s okay.
Look for the good things about them during your interactions. Be intentional about this and you will find something good. Try to focus on that.
CHOOSE YOUR THOUGHTS
We cannot control what other people say or do – we can only control how we respond to them. When you think negative thoughts about someone, it makes YOU feel terrible. It doesn’t hurt the other person – it only hurts you.
You’ve probably heard the quote “Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”
Remember that this difficult person in your life is not responsible for how you feel. Your emotions are determined by your thoughts, and you can choose to think anything you want.
Let’s say that this person often gives you unsolicited advice. You can choose to think that the person is controlling and obnoxious, or you could think that the person just wants what is best for you and is trying to help in their own way.
You are certainly not obligated to take their advice, so if you don’t like what they’re advising, it really doesn’t matter. Let them offer their opinion, and then go and do whatever you want.
SHOW UP WITH LOVE
When you choose to think different thoughts about a person, your emotions toward that person will change. If you start feeling kinder, more loving, and more forgiving toward the person, you’ll show up differently in your interactions with that person.
The other person may (or may not) respond to this in positive ways and your relationship could significantly improve.
When you’re constantly feeling angry, frustrated, or defensive around someone, you likely show up in a way that’s negative. That could easily lead to more conflict and strain in your relationship, which is exactly what you don’t want.
Feeling more loving toward someone does NOT mean that they need to be your best friend or that you need to hang out with them all the time. If it’s best for you to limit the amount of time you spend with the person or even to not see them at all, that’s okay.
The goal doesn’t have to be for you to have a close relationship with the person. Perhaps the goal is simply for you to feel better when you’re around them or when you think about them.
Give yourself the gift of feeling love toward the person. Love feels much better than anger or resentment.
You might think this person doesn’t deserve your love, forgiveness, or kindness. That may be true, but consider this – we are all flawed and we all make mistakes.
God doesn’t love us because we’ve earned it. He loves us because he’s full of grace, which by definition, is “unmerited favor”.
If God is willing to extend grace to us, shouldn’t we do the same for other people?
“Do to others as you would like them to do to you. If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that? Even sinners love those who love them! And if you do good only to those who do good to you, why should you get credit?
Even sinners do that much! And if you lend money only to those who can repay you, why should you get credit? Even sinners will lend to other sinners for a full return. Love your enemies! Do good to them.
Lend to them without expecting to be repaid.
Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked.
You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.” – Luke 6:31-36