(Note: In the spirit of LOVE, I’ve got a friend that’s offering a great giveaway today. Read to the end to find out how to enter.)
If you’re here for the first time, visiting from today’s devotion “The Difference a Dose of Love Can Make”, welcome!
As I said in the devotion…
Loving others unleashes an explosion of God’s love.
I believe that to be biblical and therefore true, but it’s not always easy. There are difficult people in our lives:
The co-worker that seems to always undermine you.
The child who constantly challenges you.
The friend who focuses exclusively on herself.
The in-law who’s an out-law.
The neighbor who isn’t neighborly.
The church lady who’s always spiritually one-upping you.
These are all legitimate sources of angst, but none of the “causes” are excuses not to love. They don’t let us off the hook for one clear reason.
Can I tell you? I KNOW that I’ve been the hard-to-love one, and Jesus could testify to that fact. Yet, He has loved me– and you– unfailingly. He is the faithful bridegroom that’s always there for us. Amazing. Hard to believe even, but true.
And so He calls us to love the difficult. The invisible. The unlovely. I don’t know about you, but I need some help with this. Here’s a short list of practical ways I’ve developed as I intentionally point my heart toward loving better:
We listen more than we speak.
This one is hard for a girl who has lots to say. Not only that, but I’ve mistakenly equated listening with agreeing. It turns out that one doesn’t equal the other. I’ll be exploring how to listen to others in a series I’ll start on the blog next week. Click here to join me. The more I listen to someone else, the deeper my understanding of them grows. Even when we’re not on the same page, a growing understanding deepens my empathy and love for them. It has never failed. Listening makes a difference.
We choose kindness even when others are unkind.
Several years ago, a close relationship in my life had become distant through a series of hard circumstances. My usual method of dealing with this kind of situation is what my kids call “ghosting.” Instead of dealing with a difficulty in a relationship, I’d simply slip away. My friends would turn around and wonder where I’d gone. This time, however, God pricked my heart, challenging me to do something that would restore the friendship, and He gave me a tool. It’s a book called The Kindness Challenge by Shaunti Feldhahn. After following the steps in the book for 30 days, lo and behold, my friendship was restored. Kindness is a powerful, loving tool for improving difficult relationships.
We watch closely for opportunities to reach out to “invisible” people.
Just like Babita displayed in my devotion today, there are people everywhere who need to be included if we’ll only open our eyes and ask God to show us. Just last weekend, I chatted with the housekeeper on the way into the bathroom at a conference center I was visiting. I complimented her on how beautiful and clean she kept the facility. It was a simple thing, but I meant it and felt compelled to tell her. On the way out, she introduced herself by name, we shook hands, and we had a lovely conversation. It wasn’t that I did anything that was a big deal, but I felt that it was a divine connection. A holy moment. Who might need a loving connection in your world today?
We pray for those who are challenging us.
Can I confess to you? Although I have a naturally sunny disposition, once you’ve crossed me, I’m apt to either ghost or hold a grudge (or both). I certainly don’t want to pray for those who have crossed my lines! But prayer is another effective way to love others and to change our feelings about them. It’s impossible to stay mad or in a state of unforgiveness if you’re praying for someone. Impossible. We can love others well in our difficult relationships by praying for them.
To help you pray, my friend Kelly O’Dell Stanley reached out to offer 5 of her beautiful prayer calendars to give away today. Wooohooo!
To enter, simply leave a comment telling one way you’ve shown love to others, a way someone has shown love to you or your favorite option from my list today. It can be short and sweet!
Everybody can receive a free gift, though. Simply click on the graphic below to receive Kelly’s February calendar when you subscribe. Thanks, Kelly, for loving on us!
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