We all have them in our lives, in our churches.
So how do we deal with a difficult person, or should I first ask, how do we define 'difficult'?
Is it the megaphone- that person who somehow always manages to corner you when you're trying to get to the next thing? Or is it the person who's opinion is always right, period? What about the one that's perpetually angry? Debbie Downer? Negative Nancy? Shall I continue? Let's not.
So back to my first question; how do we deal with these people?
Well, the churchy answer comes to mind; let's sing it together....
Beloved, let us love one another. For love is of God, and everyone that loves is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not (clap, clap, clap) knoweth not God, for God is love (echo: God is love). Beloved, let us love one another. First John four seven and eight.
Yes! One of my favorites. Let's be real, though.
Most days, that's not our first reaction.
Maybe we turn and walk the other way, or duck into the bathroom. Perhaps we grab another person and strike up a conversation, hoping to not be interrupted. If we are caught, do we put on a fake smile and slide in a sarcastic remark or two? Or do we just get through it and then vent to our husbands (or someone else) later? Does that make me a difficult person? Ouch. Am I stepping on anyone else's toes besides my own?
We are all sinners, saved by grace, imperfect people, and I need God's grace just as much as the next person. In the same way I may not "click" with someone, or "get them", there are probably plenty of people that feel the same way about me.
The Bible tells us in Hebrews 12:14 to work at living in peace with everyone, not just those we really like. That's what sets us apart as Christians- the everyone. Anybody can live in peace with the people they enjoy being around. Big whoop. We're called to a higher standard.
Something the Lord has been showing me through my time with Him, and conversations I've had over the last week or so is that, rather than praying for an action change, I need to pray for a heart change. For example, instead of praying, "Lord, help me to be nice to her," let's say "Lord, give me a heart like yours, to love her like you love her." Or look at it from a different angle. Instead of, "Lord, change them," we should be praying, "Lord, change me." I know that's super Christian cliché, but that doesn't make it any less true.
I was recently sharing this line of thought with a friend who was having a hard time with some people in her sphere of influence at her church. She emailed me a few days later with a verse the Lord gave her.
Proverbs 16:24- Kind words are like honey; sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.
I love that! I pray that my words will provide that to someone, not the alternative.
I try to keep in mind that I would want others to be patient with my shortcomings. I'm not as awesome as I think I am sometimes, even on my best day. There might even be one or two...ish people that would call me difficult, and my parents and husband don't count; years 13-17 and approximately 5 days of the month go without saying.
Be blessed this week, my friends. I pray that as you go about your business, your words will be like honey; sweet for the soul and healthy for the body.
...too bad chocolate doesn't fit those parameters.