Relationships are the basis of life, difficult people, and how we relate to them is important. Healthy relationships add incredible amounts of value to our lives; unhealthy relationships bring frustration, sorrow and pain. Yet our success and fulfillment to a great extent depends on how well we can relate to others, even those we don’t like, or those who rub us the wrong way, or even those who have hurt, betrayed, abandoned or abused us – our enemies.
Jesus told us in Matt. 5 to “love our enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Seriously Jesus? (Check out my talk from last weekend at Alive, A Shocking Relationship) If you are like me I’m guarding against opportunities to get hurt. The truth is Jesus statement is not about my enemies as much as it’s about me and the fact that He wants me to live differently and that He wants to do something significant in my heart and life. So, how do I co-operate with Him to work in my life as His masterpiece?
In my book Life Palette, I talk about how you are a masterpiece, God says so. (Eph 2:10) “You can do what you wish with your life. You have been given the privilege by your Creator to completely mess up your life and make it a disingenuous forgery of what it could be, or you can do your part to become the masterpiece God created you to be. The palette He has to work with is up to you.” (Life Palette, Chapter 1)
If you are going to give God the Life Palette that He desire to paint your life as a masterpiece everyday you are going to have to make relationships a key element. Not just any relationships, even those who are difficult or as Jesus said, “our enemies”.
It’s important to remember as you deal with these people that they are created as God’s masterpiece as well. You may not be able to see it, they may not be living like it, but imagine if they were. The very thing that makes them a person who you consider a difficult or an enemy would probably be erased if they were living as the masterpiece that God created them to be.
Having relationships with these people in our lives can seem impossible. So how do you deal with them? How do you love them? Jesus said to pray for them, and that’s a great place to start, but let’s get very practical with what to do on a day to day basis. Take a look at these six very difficult people that you may have in your life and what you should do to love them.
- Sherman Tank – this is the person that just runs you over. You should relate to them by being direct.
- Space Cadet – this person lives in their own world and may be oblivious to you and what’s going on in your world. Give them their space. (Pun intended – come on that’s funny!)
- Volcano – this person is unpredictable, explosive. You should not deal with them in public formats, get them away from others and keep them calm.
- Thumb Sucker – this type of person is a pouter, always looking for self pity. Help them to be aware that behavior like that is their choice and give them exposure to people who have real problems – or at least problems much bigger than their own.
- Wet Blanket – this person thinks everything is impossible, regardless of your thoughts or ideas they have a reason why it won’t work or won’t be fun. Don’t’ reinforce their behavior; get away from them when they are being a wet blanket.
- The Garbage Collector – this person has surrendered their emotional life to being negative, about themselves, others and the world. Confront them on what they say.
- User – this is the manipulator. For this person you need to set predetermined limits that require them to act responsibly and don’t feel obligated to them or allow them to make you feel guilty.
(not sure of the source of the 7 descriptions – but awesome)
Live The 11th Commandment
Jesus gave us and 11th commandment when He said: “Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other”. John 13:34-35 (NLT) As you deal with difficult people, remember somewhere hidden in there is one of God’s masterpieces. Ask God to give you wisdom to see them and their potential. Ask God to help you to love them unconditionally. Most important, stay emotionally healthy yourself and don’t try to be a rescuer. Be honest with God, with yourself and with them.