I apologize for not writing more this week – It as been a long one filled with turmoil and a lot of Illness filling our home. That being said – I have been praying and asking God to show me what to write about. He really brought to mind for me all the people I have had in my life, specifically the difficult ones.
If there is one thing in life that is always guaranteed it’s that you will always have at least 1 difficult person in your life. I like to thing of them as the sand paper of life. God places them there to teach you something and smooth out your rough edges. With it being right on the holidays, I really felt that it was needed to talk about how to deal with the difficult people in life.
Look – When it comes to dealing with people it’s easy to deal with the nice people. The people who are good to you – it’s easy to be good to them. It’s hard to be nice to difficult people. And I’m not talking about putting up a phony front about being nice then going behind the their backs and talking about them (again – this has taken me years to learn and I’m still imperfect, so please don’t think I’m saying this from a “I can do it already” vantage point).
God calls us to love one another. Not just the people we do like but to love everyone. In Fact in Matthew 5 he gives a direct command “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”. We are called to do this because even unbelievers can love people who are their friends. But it shows God’s love when we can love someone. We are called to be Salt of the earth, Lights of the world. How can we do this – simple – love those who hate us.
Ok so here’s the thing – It’s hard to love that boss you have that is just really pushy and short with you. The one who rides you into the ground daily. It’s hard to deal with that girl who calls you and is always complaining. That coworker who can’t show up for work because she is “sick” then posts pictures on instagram of her going drinking with her boyfriend/girlfriends. It’s hard to forgive the man or woman who wronged you. Your ex who told you he wanted a divorce. Your husband who said something hurtful today, that you just can’t seem to let go of. I have been through all of that. It never gets easier but I have learned how to forgive these people. I have learned what helps me to start thinking of them as needing love not hate, anger, or resentment.
Here’s what I do:
- pray for them. I pray. I pray for them daily. If you are like me you have a prayer journal and their name is written 3 times minimum. I pray for them to become closer to God and for him to make them into the person he wants them to be. Here’s the thing – When you pray for them, it may not change the situation. It may not even change them. But it will change you. Every time God tells us to turn the other cheek, to love our enemies – he follows it with “pray for them”. Even Christ did this as he was on the cross – he said “Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do”. Pray with a humble heart for the Lord to touch their lives in a miraculous way.
- I buy them a gift. Now this works in situations where you will see them at work daily but not in all situations. Typically I just buy them a coffee or a latte and bring it to them with a note like “your daily cup of joy”. This sounds stupid but most of the time it just lets the person know you are thinking of them. Something that small like a can of coke or cup of coffee can make their day that much better. Plus – it marks the first tangible step of forgiveness and attempt at unconditional love for me. Several of the people who have been the most difficult in my life – we now keep in touch and while we may never be best friends, I do count them as real friends.
- Realize that they may not change. The behavior they have – sometimes it will change. I have had an experience where it has changed but I have also had experiences where it hasn’t. I still pray for these people even though I don’t have any interaction with them. And I still send them small gifts when I can. But I also realize – their behavior might not change and it’s important to come to terms with that. But my reactions to their behaviors have.
Jesus Died for everyone. Not just for the righteous. He forgave Judas – a man who sent him to his death. One of the most interesting teachings is the Lords Prayer:
“Our Father in Heaven,
Hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom Come,
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil. ”
I just want to rest on the idea of God forgiving us our debts – think of ever sin you have ever committed (if you haven’t committed many – kudos to you but you are wrong; and if you are like me – I get it.). He forgives all of those. Every single sin that popped into your head – it’s already forgiven. Isn’t that incredible!? How could we do any less. I would like to point out that if you can’t forgive the next verse tells us that we will not be forgiven by the Father. Without forgiveness we can’t have unity as a body of believers. Without forgiveness we can’t have unconditional love. And without forgiveness – we can’t see people change or come to Christ.
It’s time to stop letting the people who are hurting influence our behavior. It’s time to be Salt of the earth and Lights to the world. It’s time to turn the other cheek. “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Matthew 5:44