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Two weeks ago, I wrote about boosting your faith in difficult seasons. Then last week, I wrote about finding hope even when it seems like there is none. And today, we’re rounding out this series with a post about LOVE.
What does LOVE mean to you?
A few weeks ago, a blogger I follow—Crystal Paine of MoneySavingMom.com—posted this great call to action on her Instagram. Crystal had just read Everybody, Always by Bob Goff, and she said the one thing that really impacted her most, was this quote:
“If following Jesus doesn’t lead you to the poor, the hungry, and the isolated, you’re not following Jesus.”
Wow. Does that hit you the same way it did me?
I started out this year seeking to love more, and this quote is really challenging me to take things to a whole new level.
After some prayer and reflection, it occurred to me that this description of “the poor, hungry, and isolated” doesn’t only refer to people who are physically poor or hungry. I think it also refers at least as much to people who are poor in spirit, hungry for Jesus, and isolated from God—regardless of their financial or social status.
I don’t know about you, but I know there are many people like that right in my backyard. We don’t have to go on a mission trip to a third-world country to encounter them. They’re right across the table, in the next cubicle, or down the street.
So what do we do? As Crystal suggests, we lean in. We get to know people on a deeper level, we don’t judge or run from their troubles, and we love them where they’re at—to the best of our ability.
5 Ways to Love the Hard People
Quite often, the people who are poorest in spirit, are the ones that are hardest to love. They’re the people who push our buttons, or the ones who are so broken they make us uncomfortable. And especially in those cases, it can be tempting to just not even try to love them.
In my retail job, I encounter a wide variety of folks. And it’s a lot easier to be kind to the ones who are nice to me, than the ones who are rude. C’mon, I know you can relate. Even if you smile and drip sugar on them, you might still be just wishing they would go away.
When somebody is grumpy, intimidating, or even just neutral and straight-faced, I find that it’s harder to show them love. This is definitely something I’m working on improving!
These are some things that are helping me:
- Always fill yourself up on God’s love, first! Fill your cup with Bible study, prayer, and fellowship with other believers. The more I’m mindful of God’s great mercy and love for you and me, and every person I encounter, the more I can show them love even when I don’t feel like it.
- Find out their story! Each of us has a broken road of some sort that led us to where we are. One thing that’s really been helping me lately, is to find out more about each person. Even if all I can do is listen and offer sympathy or encouragement, that is still something. And the bonus is, once we know their story, it becomes so much easier to understand why they are behaving a certain way.
- Set aside your own problems, to focus on theirs. Sometimes I find myself saying in my mind “But, nobody is asking me about my life”, even though I ask others about theirs. That’s okay though! I can love on others (say, at work), and then go pray about it to Jesus. And then, I go spend time with the family and friends that I know will care (and ask) about what’s going on with me.
- Throw all your stereotypes and judgements about appearance out the window! This is another thing I’m trying to do a lot more lately. Just because someone is dressed a certain way, doesn’t mean squat. They may seem to be this or that, or behave to fit a certain stereotype, but I shouldn’t assume that’s actually the case. I want to clear my mind of any snap judgements, and just ask questions and listen.
- Be kind, and pray for them! When someone is being a pill, I might not be able to diffuse the situation, or help them, or change their attitude. But what I can always do, is be as kind and gentle as possible towards them, and pray for them. Whatever we do, we can always always pray for them! ‘Lord, have mercy on this person. Whatever has caused them to behave this way, please heal that hurt, and meet that need. Show them how much you love them, and that they’re never too far gone to receive your saving grace and forgiveness.’
On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Romans 12:2-21 (NIV)
Above all, have fervent and unfailing love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins [it overlooks unkindness and unselfishly seeks the best for others].
1 Peter 4:8 (AMP)
Is any of this helpful to you? If you want to tell your story, or share your own tips for loving difficult people, feel free to contact me or leave a comment below. ❤
Hi! Thank you so much for visiting Divine Creative Love. I’m a Jesus-lovin’ girl, lettering artist, designer, and general creative-at-heart. And, I have narcolepsy. I blog about faith in God, overcoming challenges, and creative topics such as Bible journaling. If you’re new here, be sure and subscribe to my list so you won’t miss anything!
Barbara, this is so refreshing and hit me right where it needed to go, my heart. You’ve given some great tips. Sometimes we need that reminder that we are Christians and we should pour love on everybody. Great post!
Thanks Wendy! So glad it’s resonating with you.
What a sobering reminder! Thank you for this. It seems obvious what to do, but busyness, distraction, and such cloud my eternal vision.
You’re welcome Denise! ‘Tis true, it is easy to forget or be distracted. I pray God will help us to remember and stay focused on his calling for us to love our neighbors!
These are good reminders. We were talking about how to show God’s love to others today at church.
I love it when that happens… Hearing about the same topic in different places in the same day, that’s when we know it’s something God is wanting us to pay attention to and grow in that area. 🙂
Came across your website at 1 in the morning when I couldn’t sleep, and find peace when I meditate on a scripture, a principle of righteousness, or some good habit to acquire. Your teachings give hope to many people from the only sure source.
I have meditated and written my thoughts for years, and find it the most enjoyable thing I do, and can hardly wait to get up in the morning when the house is quiet, and I can focus on one idea. What works well for me is to simply write out my questions and probable answers down with a question sign behind them, even though they seem like answers. Doing it this way, I can keep going, but if I postulate an answer alone, sometimes it is not the best one at first and new answers do not seem to come as readily. By keeping writing answers in in question form, I arouse my faculties to seek and it is surprising how often a wonderful inspiring idea will come to you. I see this as a form of prayer, and getting answers from heaven. One’s spirituality can soar this way.
My bookshelf has many regular size notebooks filled with years of meditational writing. I divide the page in half, top to bottom, and fill out the whole page. That’s my goal on each page. Sometimes it takes several pages. Each page has been manually numbered, and in the back there is a manual index I have created for each page, and the title of the subject meditated on. So I can refer back anytime to any subject if needed.
Frankly, the enjoyment comes from new adventures in writing and feeling God’s love.
You have found a way to share your inspiration and it is wonderful. I have not, but would love to be able to. Finding you today has given me one joyful moment of sharing with someone who understands what a joy the scriptures can be when you ponder and meditate and write your thoughts down.
Best wishes, Mr. Orla Pedersen, 84 years old, living in Draper Utah.
It’s good to meet you, Orla! Sounds like you have a lot of writings already on your bookshelf…I’ll bet you could write a whole book. Pay attention to God’s leading, you never know how He might use your talents! I certainly didn’t expect to be a writer or a blogger, but that’s what God led me to. 😉