You sat there shyly, smiling on the outside but gurgling with raw and genuine emotion on the inside. You couldn’t believe what you were hearing, and after a while, you started to tune things out. At some point, your intrusive thoughts started to form, and they weren’t pretty. Your fury grew, and bitterness overwhelmed your heart.
Unfortunately, that encounter came home with you and rubbed off on your family, with your poor husband getting the brunt of your wrath. When he asked you what was wrong, you snapped, and your response caused the room to immediately fill up with tension that you could cut with a knife. Your mood shifted from the friendly and sweet wife he kissed that morning to the “tread lightly” wife he came home to after work. His reaction of stepping back instead of coming in for his usual hug only proved that you’d lost it, and he was proceeding cautiously.
As you went on about this and that, justifying your feelings, your husband sat and listened, occasionally nodding. His reaction gave you pause, with you wondering why he wasn’t as mad as you were and if he understood your feelings. Then, it hit you: at that moment, you were being unapproachable and not so loveable. Sadly, you allowed your ill feelings for this person to build up until it eventually consumed you. The cynical seed you planted only grew, eventually stealing away the love you gave to your family. We’ll all come across people who will rub us the wrong way, whether it’s at church, in the workplace, in friend groups, or with a family member.
Still, 1 Peter 3:8 commands us to love others selflessly. However, as you may already know, it’s often easier said than done. So how exactly do we love others selflessly in the way we’re commanded to?
Rely on the Holy Spirit.
What a beautiful promise Jesus gives us through the Holy Spirit. As believers, the spirit lives within us and attempts to intercede on our behalf. Essentially, the Holy Spirit is like our compass, guiding and leading us, helping us seek truth while gaining wisdom. When responding to people who are a little more challenging to love, we can always lean into the Holy Spirit and seek discernment in responding with poise and grace. The Holy Spirit will give us ways to love others first, putting our selfish ways aside.
It’ll gently call us to embrace forgiveness, slowly letting go of the resentment that only harms us. It’ll also remind us that understanding may not be given in this world, but God understands the depths of our hearts.
Consider their perspective.
We may never know what others are dealing with or what’s causing them to react in an unusual, unapproachable, or unloving way. If we get uncomfortable and try to understand their story by approaching them with love, we may be surprised at what we find. It’s been said that hurt people hurt people, and it may be true. When we have fresh wounds, we’re typically raw or numb with our feelings. Pain, grief, and sorrow change us, and healing takes time. That person may never be the same, so we must learn how to love them where they are.
We must also realize that our emotions and stories play a part in how we respond to others. If we walk a journey of healing, that may cause us to put our guard up, making others hesitant to get close to us. So, give yourself grace and space to recover and rest.
Moderate your thoughts.
Our mind is a battlefield, and Satan is constantly trying to play in our lives and business, feeding us lies. Still, it would help if you didn’t listen. We shouldn’t entertain those thoughts because they do nothing but bring us down and seek to carry as many people down with us as possible. Remember when you tried to take your husband down in a heated fury? You were mad and wanted him to be mad, too. You wanted him to feel the same way you did all because you allowed bitterness to grow and take hold of your thoughts.
Remember, if it doesn’t align with the Bible, it isn’t true. Where God will convict us and the form of discipline comes from a place of love, Satan will blame us and bring us into a downward spiral of feeling worthless. We must recognize the differences and guard our minds from the deceiver’s evil ways.
Hold your tongue.
Sometimes, our emotions get the best of us, and we’ll rattle off things we quickly regret. However, as you get older, you learn the art of biting your tongue and keeping your mouth shut, which is always a work in progress. You may still spit out words you don’t mean from time to time, but it’s great to have people in our lives who easily forgive us. That being said, we must realize that our words have power. When we hear hurtful words, they can cause damage in the heat of the moment. We must think before we speak, especially if we have tender emotions.
When dealing with people who seem to be a little unloveable, as much as we might want to say something back in response to a wild statement, we must bow out and instead remain neutral and respond with dignity. A sincere statement that shows you heard them or a simple head nod can go a long way. Proverbs 17:28 reminds us that even fools are thought-wise if they keep silent, discerning if they mind their tongues.
Pray for them.
In Matthew 5:43-45, Jesus reminds us to pray for our enemies, including those we see or regard as not so easy to love. The truth is, when we pray for our enemies, we start to see them differently. Our hearts soften, and something happens: God gives us the opportunity to understand the greatness of His indescribable and incredible love for us. We’re all sinners and fall short of God’s goodness and grace, but He still extends unconditional and sacrificial love on the cross.
Everyone has moments where they tend to be a bit unloveable. Luckily, God commanded us to love our enemies, especially the not-so-loveable. When we love those who hurt us, we acknowledge God's greatest command. Praying for others and ourselves, when we’re being a bit unloveable, causes us to see that love isn’t meant to be conditional but to be given freely, without regard for faults, failures, or mishaps.It also reminds us that none of us are perfect. We all fall short. However, God is always there to pick us up and set us back on our path.