I love people. Like, I really really love people. Once in a church small group, we were asked to tell what we were passionate about. I have no idea why, but I came up with some nerdy thing about good parenting.
On the drive home it just ate away at me, “Why did you say that’s your passion? That’s not your passion.” The questions lingered as I drove down A1A, “So, what is my passion then?”
I can almost remember the block I was on when the Holy Spirit spoke so clearly, “It’s people.” I wanted to stop and do a cartwheel right there. I was grinning ear to ear, and pretty sure I said out loud, “MY PASSION IS PEOPLE!”
I’ve always been this way. In elementary school they called it “bad deportment”, but I just loved talking to other little people. In junior high my mom would take me to New Orleans shopping, and routinely we’d sit on Bourbon Street and “people watch.” In high school, I could go off to summer camps for weeks on end and never miss home. If there were people there, I was good.
But I’m not going to flat-out lie, there are some people-types I’m not that passionate about. They’re the ones I call “hard to love.”
Most of the people in my life–I’d say 98 percent–are “easy to love.” My kids, my husband (usually), my neighbors, my kids’ teachers, other like-minded moms–easy to love.
Then there’s random people around town. The nice cashier at CVS, the funny teenager at the Chick Fil A drive through, and the helpful manager at A.C. Moore–easy to love. The hilarious eye doctor who didn’t charge me for an in and out visit–VERY easy to love.
So what do you do with the other 2 percent, the “hard to love” brand? In God’s sovereignty He allows these people in our lives to grow us up and refine us. The question is, how are we to handle them?
When Jesus walked among us He loved 100 percent of the people. I seriously doubt he even had a “easy/hard” meter, He just loved them all so much. In John 13:34, He said, “This a new commandment I give to you, that you would love one another, just as I have loved you.”
I want to love like Jesus did–the easy and the hard–I really do. But I know that I can’t and won’t do it in my natural state. I have found, however, some ways to increase my ability to love more, even if not perfectly. Certainly not perfectly.
First, I have to literally let God’s love consume me. God is love, and I can tell by noon when I’ve started the day away from His love and power. A quick gut-check is comparing my attitude to what the Bible says love is, “patient, kind, selfless, humble, etc.” Eek.
The whole “see them as God sees them” theory may seem cheesy, but it’s good truth–cheesy or not. When I think about this “hard to love” person in the context of being someone’s prodigal daughter, a frail recovering addict, or a jaded over-worked father, it really humbles my spirit to at least try to love them.
I’m not trying to seem naive. I know this 2 percent can make or break your day–sometimes your life. So, if a “hard to love” person in your life is a stumbling block, just keep a safe distance. I’m serious. The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 10:13, when you endure temptation, God will be faithful to provide an escape route.
If it’s someone you just can’t dodge, take my advice and press on being A Little Happy. Eventually, they’ll dodge you.
And maybe–just maybe–you’ll be given an opportunity to see them as God does, and realize they just needed to be loved.
Learning to love like Christ is not for sissies. You have to confront how absolutely lacking and inept you are in the love department. Even though people are my passion, sometimes I do very poorly at loving them well, even the easy ones.
But thanks be to God, HIS love lacks nothing and HIS patience for us is long. He has started a good work in us and He’s faithful to complete it. So in the meantime, just love others and–for their sake–be “easy to love.”