You ever have to deal with difficult people? Sure you do. We all do. And I don’t care who you are. It’s hard.
Hard to keep my mouth shut when I want to say something rude. Hard to smile when I want to smack somebody. Hard to be cordial when I just want to leave. I’m just being real, here. My emotions can get the best of me if I let them and there’s nothing to set them off like being in a difficult situation with somebody who’s really hard to get along with.
I’m reminded of the title of a book I bought awhile back, People Can’t Drive You Crazy if You Don’t Give Them the Keys by Mike Bechtle. It’s a great book that really teaches us how to focus on our responses rather than the other person’s behavior.
I’m also reminded of the Serenity Prayer, which says, “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” I’m saying the Serenity Prayer a lot lately. Sometimes I say it like this: God, grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change, the courage to change myself and the wisdom to know the difference.
So, what does God say about dealing with difficult people, since that is where I should always look first for guidance? The Word has some great advice, if I am open to hearing it. It also requires me to change if I am willing to listen… to change my outlook, to change my attitude, to change my actions… all of which take the courage I have been praying for. I think I found what I needed in the book of Luke.
“But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also. Give to anyone who asks; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back. Do to others as you would like them to do to you.” – Luke 6:27-31
This isn’t what I want to hear. It’s what I expected to hear, but not what I want to hear, because I don’t want to do this. I don’t feel like blessing those who curse me and praying for those who hurt me. It’s hard. Oh, wait, there’s more.
“If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that? Even sinners love those who love them! And if you do good only to those who do good to you, why should you get credit? Even sinners do that much! And if you lend money only to those who can repay you, why should you get credit? Even sinners will lend to other sinners for a full return.” – Luke 6:32-34
You mean I can’t just do good to those who do good to me? Oh, yeah, I have to do to others as I would like them to do to me, not as they have done to me. I have to be nice even when they’re not. Not only that, but I have to love them. Love them. And do good to them. Ugh.
“Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.” – Luke 6:35-36
So I have to love them and pray for them and do good to them and be compassionate to them. And then I will be rewarded very greatly from heaven. Yes, this will take courage. But these are all things that I can change. I can change my outlook, my attitudes, my actions.
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” – Philippians 4:13
Thank you Jesus for giving me a way through this. Thank you for showing me the way, your way. I want to do what’s right and love those who don’t love me. Please, give me the strength and the courage to do it. Amen.