You’re moving pretty well through life, you finally got that job you love, you have been keeping a pretty steady work out routine, eating healthy, and physically feeling great, you just paid off that last student loan and no longer work for Sallie Mae, and you even have spare time to make new memories with friends and go on fun adventures. Basically life is pretty great then BAM!…God puts someone in your life that is the most difficult person to deal with ever, and it really tests your patience and ability to love. In fact the mere mention of their name makes you cringe, their presence makes you want to sneak out of the room, and hearing their voice makes you shudder as though the temperature in the room just dropped 30 degrees.
At some point in your life, you know you have had a “thorn in your side,” a “test of wills,” a “character building” person that you have interacted with maybe not by choice, but by necessity. You even may be thinking, “God, things are going really great right now, I would really appreciate it if you remove this person from my life, so that I can continue on enjoying the wonderful things in my life.” But no, this person is there for a reason, your friends tell you. They are there to not only test your capacity to love and your level of patience, but to help you grow and to teach you something about yourself. Then you start to wonder, “If this is to test and teach me how to love this really difficult person now, what kind of people are you preparing me to have to interact with down the road?” You begin to stop leaving the house for fear that you may have to encounter these kind of ‘teachable moment’ kind of people.” Thus an internal debate ensues, “What can this person possible teach me that I can’t learn from a Shauna Niequist book or from the 3-point message from my pastor about loving those that persecute you? At least that would be just as educational and not as painful.” However, God wants us to learn hands on and put what we know in our hearts into actions that are lived out in real life difficult situations. It’s just a hard lesson to learn, and one we would rather just avoid…like that person.
We all have that one person who was put in our lives to love even though everything inside of ourselves does not want to extend love or grace because of how bad they annoy us. Even if we don’t think that person who tests our patience and capacity to love deserves our time, attention, or love we still need to love. And love sincerely. It is by our love for each other, especially those that are hard to love, that others will then see the love of Christ in us and through us and be drawn to Christ. It is in these moments when we don’t think we have it in us to love that we ask God to inspire a love that is beyond our capacity to give, so that we can love others truly as to not just to pretend to love others, but to really love them.
So before you start your day, pray for that hard-to-love person and genuinely mean it. Ask God for opportunities to show them sincere love and to soften your heart towards them. Ask God to allow you to see them the way that He does. And anytime you think negatively about that person, name a few positive things that you do appreciate about them. God will begin to teach you a valuable lesson in what love in action really looks like.
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. -Romans 12:9-10