By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. —John 13:35, NIV
Friend to Friend
Grandchildren often remind me how to find joy in the simple things of life.
Not long ago, I took Lelia and Jaydan, our two-year-old twin grandchildren, on a little shopping trip. When Mimi comes for a visit, there is always a shopping trip on the agenda. Lelia and Jaydan piled into the car and we headed to the store. I think I was more excited than they were. That’s how grandmothers are.
Once we were inside the store, we grabbed a shopping cart and off we went in search of treasures. In other words, we needed toys! As we headed to the toy section of the store, we passed the pharmacy – which reminded me that I needed to pick up some vitamins.
The twins were very patient as I searched the pharmacy shelves and found what I needed. I tossed the box of vitamins in the cart and said, “Let’s go! The toys are just ahead!”
When we reached the first aisle of the toy section, I reminded Lelia and Jaydan that they could each pick one very special toy for Mimi to buy. Jaydan headed straight for the “crucks” and cars. No surprise there! But Lelia didn’t seem very interested in looking at much of anything. Now that was surprising!
As I tried to figure out what the problem could possibly be, I spotted something pink out of the corner of my eye. A closer look revealed a small pink box of Hello Kitty Band-Aids clutched tightly in Lelia’s little hands. Judging from the slightly crumpled box, I knew she had been holding her treasure for quite some time.
Evidently, Lelia had done a little looking on her own while I was searching for my vitamins; and had come up with a box of Band-Aids. But Mimi did not travel all the way from Kansas to North Carolina to buy her precious little granddaughter a paltry box of Band-Aids!
When I tried to persuade Lelia to pick something else – something a little more exciting than Band-Aids – she politely refused. Lelia was happy, but Mimi was not. I wanted to buy her a “real” toy, but what Lelia really wanted was a box of Hello Kitty Band-Aids.
We often treat irritating people the same way. Have you noticed that sandpaper people are usually needy people? I have discovered that irritating behavior is often nothing more than a plea for help in disguise. True love – God’s love – looks beyond abrasive behavior to see and meet the real needs of a difficult person.
Meeting a need in the life of a sandpaper person can be messy and usually demands a sacrifice of some kind on our part. It is easier to simply placate or avoid difficult people than it is to love them the way they need to be loved. It makes our life easier.
For example, when we see that sandpaper person coming, we turn around and head in the opposite direction. When the caller ID identifies our sandpaper person as the caller, we do not answer. Hurried conversations replace a listening heart. We offer tolerance instead of acceptance. And God is not pleased. He is committed to our character – not to our comfort.
God wants us to love each other in the same way that He loves – unconditionally. In fact, God wants us to love in such a way that the people around us will know we are fully devoted followers of Christ. I wonder what our relationships would look like if we did. Who knows? That sandpaper person may very well turn into a velvet person.
Father, Thank You for looking beyond my faults and for loving me unconditionally. Forgive me when I fail to love others in the same way. Give me eyes to see the needs in my sandpaper person’s life and show me how to meet those needs in a way that pleases You. I pray that others will see Your love working in and through my life. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Now it’s Your Turn
Nowhere in the Bible will you find the words, “When you feel like it, love others.” Nope! It is not in there. The Bible tells us to practice love. Love is a choice – not an emotion or a feeling. Loving sandpaper people usually requires a deliberate choice on our part.
I challenge you to step out in faith today and choose to love that difficult person in your life. Read the following commitment and fill in the blanks with the name of your sandpaper person. Be sure to sign and date your commitment.
Father, I choose to love _____________________ as a step of obedience to You.
I will show Your love to _____________________ by sending her a note of encouragement. I will pray for _____________________, remembering that she is made in Your image, and that You love her just as much as You love me.
Sign____________________________ Date _____________________________
More from the Girlfriends
I know it is hard to love someone who is constantly on your nerves. In fact, it is impossible without the power of God in your life. Sharon, Gwen and I understand how hard it is to love difficult people, so we hold each other accountable. I encourage you to recruit a girlfriend who is willing to do the same for you.
Need help understanding the Bible? Check out Mary’s online Bible study, Light for the Journey, and join women across the world in learning how to apply God’s truths to your daily life in her current study, From a Mess to a Miracle. Enroll today and have access to all of the 2013 lessons. Be sure to connect with Mary on Facebook or through email.