Heart to Heart on Loving the Unlovable
Guest blogger Alison Lawson shares with us another great post on love. Click to see past post's on Parenting, Marriage & Friendships.
I will admit. It is tough to love someone who does not act very lovable. We made a choice to marry our spouse, have children, and build friendships with certain people, but we certainly have not chosen to have difficult people in our lives. This person may be a neighbor, a relative, or co-worker. They are a part of our lives, like it or not. So how do we love a person who is hard to love?
Let’s first think about some of the actions of the “unlovable”. Harsh and judgmental, they say exactly what they think all the time, hurting feelings or offending others. Their rolling eyes and terse remarks often leave you feeling as competent as a toddler. They are competitive, always wanting to outdo another as they point out their bigger house, smarter son, and more obedient daughter. The list could go on and on of annoying, aggravating actions and words that make your blood boil.
You want to react with snappy words that bring these grueling people back to reality. Or maybe you just want to run as far away from them as possible and hope you never cross paths again. Well, that may be how you feel, but remember, love is an action, not a feeling. We should act in love towards everyone, but how in the world do we act in love towards those difficult people in our lives?
While we cannot run away from our problems or every thorny situation that arises in life, it is okay to put some space between ourselves and those people who know just how to push our buttons. We should not be rude about needing our space, but merely take advantage of the opportunities that allow us time apart. We may even find that, with a little space, it is easier to love these people.
But what if it is impractical to put some space between the two of you? While it may be impossible to evade these foes, we must avoid stooping to their level when troubles arise. If their behavior is rude and hurtful, we should not mimic them by responding in the same way.
Three concise, yet challenging “rules” have enabled me to respond to difficult people with love and to prevent myself from saying or doing something I would later regret. These principles are 1) Be kind, 2) Be respectful, and 3) Use as few words as possible.
God tells us that we must not return evil with evil. Rather than responding callously to hurtful comments, be kind. Ultimately, we are accountable for our own remarks, not theirs. Therefore we should make sure we are acting in a nice, gentle manner despite what they say to us.
Furthermore, be respectful. Each human life is precious, created by God, and it is not our role to decide who is worthy of respect, even when a person’s words and actions are far less than commendable. Our focus must instead be on our own character and actions, which include showing respect to others.
Finally, have self control and use as few words as possible. Most likely, when hurt by someone’s remarks or deeds, a litany of words, few of which are actually kind or respectful, are ready to pour forth from our mouths. However, the more words spoken, the more likely those words are to be snappy and insensitive. Every effort must be made to limit what is said in response to difficult people.
In addition to these three guiding principles, we should faithfully pray for the problematic people in our lives, asking God to help them see their faults and submit their lives completely over to Him. Moreover, we should pray for ourselves, seeking God’s forgiveness when we respond inappropriately – in word, deed, or thought - and asking Him to fill us with love and compassion for these people.
God will answer our prayers, especially when we truly desire to change our own attitudes toward someone. Furthermore, we are likely to see an incredible, miraculous transformation in the relationship as we, too, submit to the Lord and seek to love the “unlovable”.
“But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you….And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise.” Luke 6:27-8, 31
Alison Lawson has been a part of the Southeastern community for over twelve years. Her husband, Michael, earned Masters of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry degrees from Southeastern, and has been employed at SEBTS as the Director of Campus Security since 2002. Mike and Alison have been married for fifteen years and have three sons whom she home schools: Brandon (7th grade), Nicholas (4th grade), and Zachary (2nd grade). They are members at Wake Cross Roads Baptist Church. Read more about what God is teaching Alison and her family at www.fivefootprints.blogspot.com.