By DEBRA WHITE SMITH
QUESTION: I am working with a very difficult person who is driving me crazy! I am a Christian woman, and it's driving me crazy that she's driving me crazy! I know I need to love her, and I know she needs love. But she so rubs me the wrong way, and I can't stand being around her. But the only way I'm going to get away from her is to quit. I'm stuck and miserable!
ANSWER: My husband and I have both had situations very similar to yours. About twenty years ago, my husband came home one day, telling me that a man at work really irritated him. This went on for months until one day, he decided he had to live with the guy every day, and he might as well make the best of it. So he started teasing this man in a friendly fashion that guys often do. Well, the man responded positively. Before my husband knew it, he found himself actually liking the man. Eventually, their friendship grew into a close family-like bond. Numerous times, my husband would say, “He's nearly as close to me as my own father.” Sadly, his friend eventually died, and my husband was heartbroken over the man who he originally couldn't stand to be around.
Normally, I get along with just about anybody. But several years ago, I encountered a woman who made me want to run in the opposite direction. While I didn't have to work with her, I was eventually placed in close proximity to her on a regular basis. I remember the first time I went into the setting. I prayed something like, “God! Why me!” As I was required to interact with this woman on a regular basis, I got to know her better and slipped into treating her like a friend. Eventually, my actions impacted my feelings for her, and she didn't get on my nerves anymore. Now, we aren't best friends. However, I do consider her a friend, and I have genuinely grown to love her like a Christian sister.
The core issue that changed both my husband and my heart toward these irritators was when we stopped looking at them through our eyes and asked the Lord to show them to us through His eyes. This is a “seeing with the heart,” that only the Lord can bring about in your soul. Once we both saw these people as in need of love, support, and friendship, God provided a miraculous affection for them as friends. While I am not as close to my friend as Daniel was to his, both our lives have been enriched by people whom we originally couldn't stand.
I believe you can discover the same experience with this woman. Luke 6:27-28 holds the formula, “But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you” (KJV). The reason I call this passage a formula is because it can be illustrated like this: do good + bless + pray=love. We often say that our attitudes affect our actions. But our actions also affect our attitudes. If you will do good to this lady, pray for her, and bless her with your words, your actions will affect your heart, and God will unleash a love for her within you that you never expected!
The author of 54 books, Debra White Smith holds an M.A. from U.T. and is the featured relationship specialist on the Fox News Radio Show, “Plain Jane Wisdom.” She and her husband, Daniel, co-pastor Palestine Church of the Nazarene. For more information, visit www.debrawhitesmith.com. Got a problem? E-mail Debra at firstname.lastname@example.org