Dealing with difficult people might feel like swimming with sharks. How can we swim with sharks and not get eaten? And, how can we swim with sharks without becoming one?
When you don’t know how to hold your own in relationships,
and someone takes advantage, it feels like being held under water.
When I walk in the flesh, my heart rebels against verses like this:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, ‘Do not resist the one who is evil…And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles’ (Matthew 5:38, 39, 41, ESV).
And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. So much for avoiding difficult people. My go-to-moves for dealing with manipulative, selfish, narcissistic people are very original: (1) run and hide OR (2) stand and fight. But, Go with him TWO miles—REALLY? Yes. Really.
This idea has often made my skin crawl.
People who force you to walk with them, or force you to talk with them, or force you to spend time with them, or force you into anger with all their forceful forcing…these people…they are not. my. people!
I have asked: Lord, how? How can I do this? Yet, I have done this. I have done this the wrong way: with eye rolls and huffy breaths and clenched fists and tight teeth.
I have dreaded and complained and resented and secretly maligned and I have stiffened my neck…all the while, knowing about the commandment to love my neighbor (Mark 12:31; Leviticus 19:17; Luke 6:27; Matthew 22:36-40; Romans 13:8-10; Luke 10:25-37; John 15:12; Matthew 19:19; Colossians 3:12-14; 1 John 3:23).
How can wounded hearts learn to be generous and humble, to overlook transgressions and feel peace when wronged?
This is the best tip for dealing with difficult people:
We don’t have to trust in people,
our hope is in the Lord and His Plan.
God’s plan is simple. We see it in the love of Jesus: “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:7, ESV). Here is the unexpected key: Love gives us HOPE.
When we just know how some people are…we should hope for the best. When we just know how a situation or discussion will go…we should hope for the best. When we feel like a person, or a relationship, is a lost cause, God calls us to hope for the best—not because we trust in the person, but because we find our hope in Him, who is able to redeem difficult people, even us.
So, here’s to hoping we can learn to love (be patient with and kind to) the people who push our buttons by remembering that we love, because He first loved us. And loving hearts walk in hope.