Loving the Hard to Love

On loving someone when you’re not “feeling it.”

Some  people are hard to love. Maybe they are immature, or selfish, or mean. Maybe they remind us of someone else we struggle to like—maybe they remind us of ourselves. I run into this a lot in my line of work. Because it is difficult, this kind of love must be a choice. Loving these people takes different skills and requires different steps. 

  • The first step is the same as learning to love people the first time we meet them: remember your own identity. You are loved. We are able to love others when we know we are loved.
  • The next step is to admit to yourself, and possibly to someone else, that you don’t love this person very much, if at all. Acknowledging our lack of love and desire to change is how we begin to learn.
  • Pray for the person. Prayers will help you remember that this person is also a loved child of God.
  • Learn their story if you can. Laugh at yourself. Don’t think too much. Pray again. God loves this person. God will provide love.

I found Bobbie hard to love.

Jim and I were out meeting some young ladies under the bridge, teenage girls, one of whom needed some bus money to get to school the next morning. We both noticed Bobbie and wondered if God might be doing something with her. I wasn’t sure. I did second guess; maybe it was just her cute American nickname we noticed, or the straight short bangs across her forehead, or that awkward way she carried herself in her attempt to look cute with her friends under the bridge that night.  But maybe there was more, God was working His plan for her and we happened to take note; the Holy Spirit nudged us. 

About a year later, we ran into Bobbie again. We were out walking by the canal with some friends, one of them a photographer. This friend offered to take some pictures of her and she was very excited about that, and so because of some photos and some “luck” we became Facebook friends with Bobbie. We started with messaging, then calling and finally she was coming by. Her visits were inconvenient and her manners terrible. She would take selfies of herself in our home, ask for chocolate Milo smoothies and borrow our bathroom for a shower or a smoke. She interrupted my life in a way I did not appreciate. Smoking in my bathroom … !

Then there was that night I drove her on my motorbike with one of her little friends, the three of us on back alleys.

She told me it was a “quick errand” and so I was following her directions, turning right then left, and then right again, it was a long way just to drop something off for her at a friend’s. I’d already bought her supper and given her bus money and now this errand, this all at the end of a long day of my own.  She got off the bike at the end of that and turned and saw me for the first time, she noticed that I was tired.  She said thank you, leaned in for a hug and gave me a kiss on the cheek. I went home that night and told Jim how aggravated I was. Her small thank-you helped, but she was still so hard to love. And so I admitted to God that I didn’t love her and asked Him to help. And He did. 

That same week, Bobbie decided to join The Well’s day program with three of her friends.  I laughed, I told Jim she’d last 2 days, maybe 3 days tops. But she came to stay and I began to see her and know her story and I fell in love with this sweet lovely person, the one that God had a plan for way back when. Sometimes I think God just made her lovely for me, so I could love her, but no, she was made lovely already. God just made sure I noticed. He answered my prayer.

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Margie Palmer
Margie Palmer
2 years ago

I love the thought of God making someone lovely just for me, and then how you realize she was lovely already. I am encouraged to pray for a young woman in my life who is difficult for me to love. Thanks Judy.

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