Loving the Difficult
We all have moments when we struggle to love others, especially those who are “other” than us. It’s tough to love the stranger because strangers can be so…strange, at least to us. Sometimes our love falters because we find others a little odd and sometimes we find them obnoxious and off-putting. And you may have noticed, the more different people are, the more difficult we can find it to truly extend love to them.
No one needs a lot of reminders to love when it’s easy, but loving the difficult can be, what’s the word? Difficult. I am always challenged by this quote from Dorothy Day who said, “We love God only as much as the person we love the least.” So where do we begin? I’m not saying you have to do anything monumental right off the bat. Try some simple steps.
Look for small ways to bless those whom you find difficult. That can be enemies or opponents, but it can also be people you just find obnoxious, ornery, or challenging to be around. You can’t easily choose your feelings. Those often take a long time to change. But you can choose to offer prayers of blessing, choose to act in kindness and forgiveness, with patience and compassion whether you are feeling it or not.
Another step is to look for small ways to befriend those who are different. Look for times to grab coffee with people from different backgrounds, people who worship differently or vote differently or may come from a different culture. Don’t just talk. Listen to understand. Listen to respect. Honor others for who they are. These little moments of giving and receiving love with those different and even difficult is how we join God’s work to “overcome evil with good.”