Inspiration

4 Ways to Love the Difficult People in Your Life


Who do you struggle to love?  Your mother-in-law?  A co-worker? A rebellious teen or a sassy child?  Maybe Valentine’s Day is your opportunity to love the unlovable.

We all have them: the cranky, difficult people in our lives who are tough to just co-exist with, let alone love. So how do we do it? Consider these strategies:

1. Remember how much you’ve been loved. God has shown His love for each of us in innumerable ways. Is it so much to ask us just to pay that forward to others? When you’re having to dig deep to offer kindness to a sibling who makes all the wrong choices, or to be nice to a co-worker whom you know said something unfair about you, realize that you’re writing a check on an account that God makes regular deposits in, whether or not the people around you do.

2. Expect nothing in return. When you’re taking the high road and offering love to those who don’t make it easy, don’t go into it expecting the favor to be returned. Doing so just sets you up to be disappointed if it isn’t which fuels the fire of resentment and frustration in your own heart. Think of it as a gift, with no strings attached. And maybe you’ll give several of these gifts of kindness or love with no reason to think they even notice. But your persistence in doing the right thing may be quietly adding up to a major change in the other person’s life that you won’t know about until much later. Keep doing the right thing in faith until then.

3. Don’t make a big show of it. If you make a big production out of your gesture of love, it may be perceived as agenda-driven, leaving others to wonder what you’re “up to.” Keep it low-key and real, and it will likely still be noticed, and received as a genuine act. Help your crabby mother-in-law with the dishes after the family gathering. Help your co-worker get the project in by the deadline without making a big fuss. You don’t have to bang cymbals to draw attention to love—it speaks pretty loudly on its own.

4. Be patient, and give grace. Don’t be thrown off-course by the idea of whether someone deserves your love or not. Because we’re all flawed human beings and you could say that about almost anyone at some point. But we do not love others because they deserve it. We love them because our heavenly father “first loved us.” And thank heaven he didn’t withhold his grace and love until we earned it. Grace by definition is “unmerited favor.” So throw out your scorecard and decide to give grace and love based on God’s plan rather than the world’s.

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  • KrisFromMI

    Well…..I hate to be a negative nelly for the first comment….LOL…But here is my story and I don’t know where else to put it. I have been searching the internet SO much the last few days. I just need some advice. Me and my husband have been together for going on 18 years. We have been married for almost 8 of them years. I was 27 he was 33 when we very first got together. I had 4 children. When we met he was not in a very good place. he was HEAVILY addicted to drugs and pretty much homeless. We seen each other a few times just “around” not dating or anything. He came to my house one night, and straight up told me, he had a SERIOUS problem and wanted to stop. That was the begining for us.Well life went along….we have been together ever since. we have had VERY bad downs and VERY good up’s! I will spare you all all of the details. Well, this is where I feel the demise of our relationship took the turn it is to at this point in time. Last year one of my husbands friends ( a much older friend at 74) got sick and eventually passed away. Him and his wife and me and my husband were very close ( she was much younger than her husband at 48 maybe). She was who I considered one of my best friends. We talked about EVERYTHING. Well I found out that a month after HER husband passed away that her and MY husband spent endless hours on the phone to eachother everyday. They would talk from the time my husband left the house in the morning (he is a truck driver) until the time he got home at night. Monday through Friday they talked for a minimum of 6 hours a day. I talked to “her” probably 5 to six times a week M-F and much more often on the weekends. I figured out one weekend that something wasn’t adding up. My husband told me a couple things that I KNEW didn’t tell him. After thinking about it over night, I figured out that he had been talking to “her” because she was the ONLY one I had said any of these things to. I asked my husband if he had been talking to “her”. He said yea, once in a while. I was like OK. ( “thought” it’s ok THEY were friends too) Well my mind would not let it rest. I looked on his phone and there were no calls from her or to her. That kind of boggled me. So I looked on out phone account.I ALMOST passed out!!! There were 6555 minutes of them talking to eachother in approx 20 days of the month that we were into. I didn’t know WHAT to do. He was sleeping in his chair. I walked outside, I went to my other girlfriend’s house and poured my heart out to her. She cried with me. I thought Hmmmmm….I am gonna call “her” off on my hubbys phone and see what her reaction would be to it being ME. :) She said Hiiiii……I said Hey…..she asked what I was up to…I said oh not much. I just got a question for ya…she said yea? I asked her if she had talked to my husband lately…..she says yea once in a while….I was like WHAT?! once in a while?!?! she hung up on me and has NEVER answered me again. I MARCHED to OUR house and gave my husband ONE last chance to tell me the truth. I asked him HOW much do you talk to “her” and he was adiment that it was ONCE IN A WHILE. I busted out my computer with the phone records on it and asked him AGAIN……NOW tell me……HOW often do you talk to her? well needless to say it has been ROUGH…..VERY rough. We have been working on our marriage, we do really good for a while and then something happens and I find myself dwelling on WHY did he so this to me…….Well THIS weekend he threw me ANOTHER blow that I am TRYING to deal with. He told me that he doesn’t find my breast attractive, AT ALL, actually he said that they just TOTALLY turn him off….he said he didn’t want to hurt my feelings but they just DON’T. He continued on to ask me if I breast fed my kids when they were born….I was TOTALLY dumbfounded and didn’t even know what to do. All I could do was cry! I feel SO horrible. There is NOTHING I can do about the way my breast are. I am getting older and YES I have had FOUR children! I am by NO means a beauty queen (far from it) but MAN…..for being 44 and having FOUR kids I THOUGHT I looked pretty darn good. But he busted that balloon too. I feel SO insignifigant and I don’t know WHAT to do anymore. I feel like NOTHING I do….or don’t do is right. I feel like I will NEVER make him happy so when do I QUIT trying to make HIM happy and start on making ME happy? I don’t know….I guess I just want some advice. I am 44 years old I am 5’7″ tall, I weigh 148 lbs. Part of me says IF he doesn’t “want” me, I am SURE I can find someone that DOES. But THAT is NOT me…….I LOVE my husband. I WANT to make HIM happy…..BUT I NEED to feel happy too :(

    • Karen

      Oh Kris, my heart goes out to you! What a heartbreaking situation you are in! In addition to the grief of losing a good friend you’re grieving the loss of trust in, and betrayal by, 2 of those who mean the most to you! Tragically, it sounds like grief has “thrown” them together, inappropriately. I hope someone has given you the name of a good Christian counselor in your area who can help you through this. And marriage counselor. This is too much to bear and sort out on your own…I’m so glad you have another friend you’ve been able to process this with, and cry with. Lean on that/those friend(s). I don’t know if this will help, but I heard it once……Set aside time(s), and amount of time, each day to give yourself permission to grieve. Then move through your day telling yourself at such-and-such a time you can grieve with abandon but right now you need to function. Maybe ___ minutes every 1/2 hour or hour, to begin with? I’m praying that you will have God’s wisdom and God’s strength for this moment. This hour. Today. Every day.

      • KrisFromMI

        Thank You Karen! :) I was begining to wonder if anyone read these things LOL Yes it does stink. I have always thought of myself as a very strong person, but THIS particular thing has thrown me for a loop. He still to this day “says” that nothing “physical” happened. My feelings are that all of it….physical and/or emotional is wrong. If they were doing nothing wrong than WHY were all of the calls and text deleted and also “pictures”, of WHAT I have no idea. I have had several people that know us say that they had seen things earlier. It all plays with my heart. I WANT to believe my husband. But in my heart of hearts I fear that he is lying to me. Then I have other people that have told me the stuff they have seen, and it tears me apart to think about it. My problem is that I am the type of person to just put on a happy face and keep all my feelings tucked inside. Sometimes though I BLOW my cork. It takes an awful lot…..but when it goes….it goes :)
        Some days I think Oh I will be fine! I can sort this all out. I was doing really good….then the this past weekend happened and I though WHAT have I been doing all of this time?!?!? I feel like a fool. Since the “friend” episode happened I have been trying really hard to be more flirtatious, dressing to seduce him or what not. Then I get the revalation from him that WOW I really don’t even turn him on :( He tells me I LOVE YOU! I told him I think that HIS definition of love and MY definition of love must be 2 COMPLETELY different things. I would NEVER do the things and say the things to him (the man I LOVE) that he does to me and he has no response to that.I think that he has some VERY deep issues that he needs to deal with and I am not capable of helping him with that. We can help each other with a lot of things and we have but I don’t know if his upbringing or WHAT his issues really are. I know that HE is not a very happy person, he is very negative about almost everything and he always thinks he has it the worst of ANYONE. I have tried for going on 18 years to help him through all of the troubles that he has had. BUT these issues I can’t fix……at least on my own. I WISH I didn’t love this man with EVERYTHING that I am. I wish I hated his guts and could care less….but I don’t. To answer your question about counciling…I have been in contact with one place, but they said that I would need to contact a different place because they deal more with people that are mentally “unstabe” I understand what they mean but somedays I feel UNSTABLE. I need to contact some other places. Like I say….I am having the days now where I “think” I can deal with this my self. :)

  • JBA

    I was truly blown away after reading this article. I was expecting to read about how to shop ’til you drop or have a girls’ night out with your closest friends in order to feel like a princess. But the author emphasizes that a woman should focus on her inner beauty instead of what the world considers beautiful is only external and very superficial. BRAVO, Nancy Jenkins! After reading just a few lines of your article, immediately, I realized I am a princess. I am a Cinderella. Better yet, I am a child of the King who possesses so much more than I ever realized. I do possess those internal qualities that God truly admires-being kind, bold, hopeful, resourceful, and honorable. I thank God for using you to help me understand that I am truly beautiful!

  • SaraLynn

    Thank you for this article. I loved it except one of the primary things that hit me in this new Cinderella movie was to Be Forgiving. It was a powerful scene at the end of the movie when Cinderella turns and tells her stepmother that she forgives her. Unforgiveness can destroy a person from the inside out! Cinderella could never have a happily ever after if she was not forgiving.