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Posted: October 13, 2008 5:00 a.m.

Showing love to difficult people

Recently, my pastor challenged the congregation to go 24 hours without complaining. When he made that request, I thought, "OK, I’ll take that challenge." By three o’clock, I fell off the wagon and wondered how the rest of the church faired.

I lay in bed that night praying and asking God for help in many areas of my life. As I spoke these words, "I love you so much, Father" — God stopped me short and gave me my greatest challenge.

"Do you love me enough to show love to _______," he asked? He filled in the blank with names of several people that I keep at an arms distance.

At an early age, as a means of shielding myself against pain and troublemakers, I would simply put up a wall between me and that person. If they hurt someone I loved, I would pretend that person didn’t exist. I would erase their existence from my mind. Not a pretty thing to admit, but it made life easier — for a season. Unfortunately, bad habits carry over into our adult lives and become much more difficult to face.

My husband finds a way to get along with everyone and has had very few broken relationships. What’s his secret? He forgives and forgets and keeps the lines of communication open, where I am guilty of clamming up.

We can all agree that it is much easier to drop money into the offering plate for missions than it is to be a missionary of love to family or friends. Luke 10:27 commands us to love God with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.

My greatest challenge — do I love God enough to show love to ________? I want to say yes, but I know I have work to do. I have to forgive, forget and restore lines of communication. Why did I share this with you? Well, it’s like when you go on a diet and tell your friends so they will hold you accountable. My friends, will you help hold me accountable as I desire to face my greatest challenge and obey God?

 

Colleen Capes Jackson is the director of the East Metro Atlanta Christian Writers and can be reached at 404-444-7514.

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