But, what if . . .?
That’s usually the comment I receive as we discuss this harder path of faith.
Suzie, what if they’re a jerk?
What if they won’t change?
What if I love them and get hurt again?
I hear your heart. I’ve been there and I’ll be there again. Yet the more that we learn to love, the less power someone else’s brokenness holds over our heart.
It doesn’t make sense in the natural, but it’s freeing.
Jesus was followed around by scalawags. I don’t have a better name for them. They were polished on the outside and dark on the inside, and they concocted devious plans for Jesus and his followers.
I remember reading an email one time and it was heavy. It blasted me. There wasn’t a thing held back, and I didn’t like it. I didn’t like the accusations. It felt worse because her accusations didn’t make sense.
I had a few choices. I could hit the delete key. I could respond after praying. I could set her straight.
Which one do you think that I wanted to do?
As I watched Jesus teach the early followers, he truly led them in this area by example.
A few times he simply moved on, because they weren’t ready to hear what he had to say. Other times he shared truth, but always wrapped in grace. Sometimes the burden got so weighty that Jesus went to be alone with his Father.
He taught the disciples that ministry and faith will always greet a mixed crowd. Some will adore you. Some will be intrigued. Some will mock or make things hard for you. The constant is found in you — and in our faith — as we refuse to allow the crowd to define who we are.
Let’s talk about the invitation as we watch Jesus’ example.
People are watching our lives and asking if Jesus is worth following.
That day I sent a response. Her response back was even more harsh.
I sent another. That turned into a conversation. I prayed that first, God would help me not take her words personal. There was a deeper battle going on here, and I didn’t have to embrace her words as my identity.
That conversation went back and forth.
Each time I prayed before responding.
Honestly, it would have been easier to delete the first email and move on, and sometimes that’s exactly what we should do — unless we feel the Holy Spirit saying otherwise.
At the end of the day, I received one last email.
This really didn’t have a lot to do with you, and I attacked you. Your mercy to me was surprising, and it shows me what I can do next time.
Even if it hadn’t turned out that way, Jesus showed me how to follow Him in loving difficult people. I wish I could say that I do exactly that every time.
Just in case you think I never make a mistake, I have missed it too many times. There are moments when I have had to learn from my mistakes, seek his beautiful mercy, and start over.
That’s the beauty of receiving and giving love.
When I mess up, I know where to go. When that person messes up with me, I pray that I can give a small portion of that grace back to them in response.
This is one of the harder paths of faith. It just is. It’s also where following Jesus can change us forever.
- Read Chapter Four
- Watch the video
- Go deeper with the questions at the end of Chapter Four with your group
- If you are studying alone, join me on my Facebook page and let’s chat about this!
- Discuss the discussion prompt at the end of the video.
I didn’t have the time to write for this week’s prompt. But I was inspired to write and plan to do so when life slows down a little. I LOVED this post! Loving difficult people is certainly not easy! The best lesson I’ve learned is to examine the ways I am also difficult to love. It’s easy to be offended . . . but it’s not always easy to see ourselves as the offender. How have I mistreated others? How am I guilty of these same offenses? What can I do to grow – to love people better – to be easier to love? These hard questions make it easier to respond to difficult people – because I’m first admitting to my prideful heart that I am not always easy to love either. Jesus was the only one who loved perfectly. And He knew to look to His Father ALONE for perfect love in return – because people are simply incapable of it. John 2:24 So when I’m offended or irritated or finding it difficult to love someone — I remember that I will never find perfect love except in God.
I think this says it all for me RebeccaLynn
I think this is the post God used through you this week. I love what you shared. Great reminder for me. I am taking a screenshot of this as I am going to see a difficult to love person in August. This will be like a prayer in my pocket.
Great story of the impact it can make if we respond well when people are difficult. I love your comment that although people’s reactions to us will vary, that we are to be constant, and that that can only come from our faith and letting God, rather than other people’s responses and opinions, define who we are.
Oh Suzie, difficult people…your words are so gracious, so loving. It’s difficult to be tender when people are difficult, but I’m learning to get over myself. Pride just jumps right in and wants to take control. Thank you for consistently pointing us in the right direction. My husband is the best disarmer I know. He doesn’t react on a whim of irritation. He waits. I’m learning, but have so much to learn…I needed this today.
Micah, her words are such a tender invitation, aren’t they? I want my voice and response to be disarming, too.
Extending grace to others who are difficult…well, that is one of the toughest things to do. I am guilty of having a “trigger mouth”, it goes off before my mind engages. I am learning through my faith; through the mercy and grace that God extends to me, to see difficult people through His eyes. Some days that view is very cloudy. But, I am working on it and as with everything else about me, it truly is a work in progress.
Charlotte, I just want to tell you I appreciate your open heart. Your words remind me of the times I have struggled with grace. I have been guilty of filtering it through who I choose rather than asking God to love people through me. I appreciate that you shared today.
“People are watching our lives and asking if Jesus is worth following.” Sister, every time I read this I am moved. Such a powerful, powerful truth. Thank you for challenging us to live out authentic faith. <3