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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