Loving People Who Are Hard To Love
Do you ever find yourself avoiding really hard and uncomfortable relationships? Maybe it’s the person who has an abrasive or quirky personality you just can’t stand.
The family member or fellow church go-er who deeply hurt or offended you. Or the friend who continually pushes you away. If we’re being real, it’s so much easier to turn a blind eye and disconnect, disengage, and pretend that our help, love and friendship doesn’t matter to them anyway.
My initial response to hard relationships is to simply avoid them. I don’t want to stick around because I feel awkward, inadequate and uncomfortable. I hate feeling uncomfortable! Don’t we all?
Recently, the Lord has been whispering to my heart: “Stop being afraid to get messy.”
–Insert big list of BUTS–
But, I like clean, easy to get along relationships.
But, I like when we both agree.
But, I like pleasant people.
But, I HATE being offended!
On the other side of the big BUT’s is the truth: It’s effortless to show kindness to “easy-to-love” people. ANYONE can do that. It’s really not even Christ-like. (Dang it).
“If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that.” -Matthew 5:46-47
If loving those who are “easy to love” isn’t really even godly, then that must mean as followers of Christ we pursue the opposite: We love when it’s hardest to.
We love the “hard to love”.
When we’re annoyed, offended, discouraged, or defeated– We love.
When it’s easier to walk away and ignore– We stay.
When we feel pushed away–We pursue them in prayer.
The truth is, we’ve all been hard to love at some point. Without a doubt, there have been times when our brokenness and sinfulness leaked and everyone could smell it. When our attitudes sucked, negativity infiltrated our sentences, and bitterness robbed us of all joy. Those around us could have easily walked away in annoyance and disgust (maybe some did). But then there were those who reached in and got in our mess with us. Some comforted us while we tried to figure things out and others grabbed us by the hand, yanked us right out of that pig sty and pointed us to the cross.
I am so grateful for those who stuck with me in my stank. Their willingness to love me despite my “hardness” tells me a lot about the God who pushed them to stay.Their actions told me about a God who embraces us in our brokenness when we do everything to keep Him out of it.
That is one of the things I love most about Jesus, He has never been afraid to get messy.
Hallelujah, THIS is the God we serve!
The God who didn’t sit on His throne and send somebody else to do the dirty work.
He came as a servant who rolled up His sleeves and wrapped a towel around His waist as He bowed low to reach into the mess we could never get ourselves out of.
The stench didn’t scare Him. The wounds didn’t gross Him out.
Because instead of staring at the clutter, He saw His children.
Though the hardness of our hearts screamed, “Go Away!”. He knew better. They were really crying out, “Come, save me.”
It’s a beautiful thing when we start to see those “hard to love” people the way Christ sees us. We get a little more compassionate because we can identify with them.
At the end of my life, I don’t want to be found in the spic-and-span, tidied up places. I want to be found amongst the sty I once lived in with my sleeves rolled up, holes in my jeans and dirt under my fingernails having been the hands and feet of the One who isn’t afraid to get messy.
What about you?