I know there are plenty of you out there today who are living with someone who is difficult to love. They may be cranky, obstinate, frustrating, mean, and selfish. They are really unlovable. If you didn’t have to spend time with them or live with them you would not. I am not saying they are beyond redemption, or that they are
incapable of being loved. I am saying that their actions and attitudes have
brought your relationship to the point where every aspect of your relationship
with them is painful, hostile, and adversarial. The only person they appear to
care about is themselves, and they give little thought or care to how they
affect you. You love them deeply, and you are concerned for them. You want to love them otherwise you would not
be hanging in there.
They make it very, very difficult. Your love is often not returned
or acknowledged, they treat you as though you “owe” them, there is so
little respect for you or your wishes, and they lie to you, sometimes steal
from you, and hurt you all the time. All they appear to care about is how you
affect them. Your loved one is supremely selfish and self-focused.
Often, their loved ones try (and fail) to change them. And while
some behavioral changes can take place and seem to stick for a while- sadly
they don’t last. Those who are the beneficiaries of some good Bible centered
counsel know that behavior change is only temporary.
Their moods seem to change
with the wind. Because they are mostly feeling oriented and feeling driven they
appear to be “manic-depressive” in their behavior. What this means in biblical
terms is “sinner.” Specifically prideful and selfish. The world of the
unlovable person revolves around what they perceive to be their needs and
wants. If they “feel” like doing something they will, if they don’t “feel” like
doing it, they won’t. When their perceived needs are not met you receive an
angry silence or hostility from them.
You have to set
boundaries on what you will or won’t tolerate from them. Clear expectations on
acceptable conduct are necessary. Sometimes the boundaries come in the form of
consequences like the break-up of a relationship. You must evaluate their words
and actions. I encourage you to be vigilant as to when they impose on you an expectation
that you must never fall short of satisfying their demands. They will want to
blame you their happiness is not achieved.
Worse of all, we want to fix
. We mistakenly believe that if we are just nicer, more loving, and
more patient; give them all they want that they will change. This is false. It
is not about us it is about them and it will
remain that way until they repent. There will never be enough
for them, they won’t be satisfied. What meets those perceived needs today,
won’t tomorrow.
When you love such a person you must pray that God will capture
their heart. As much as you want to change their actions or attitude,
particularly toward you, you must realize you cannot. Only He can change them.
So you pray, and pray that they will somehow want to change to conform to the
image of Christ. You hope and pray that something, anything will cause them to
long for Him more than anything else they desire. If prayer appears to go
unanswered it becomes depressing and discouraging. Most people quit because
they can’t stand the discouragement.
The problem for those who
love unlovable people is that you do love them! You love them
deeply and completely. If you are spiritually minded you hurt for them because you
can see the real need they have is for repentance and change (Eph. 4:22-30) and
it is very painful to watch them flounder and seek after all the wrong things.
Can you recognize and accept why Christ has given you the burden
for this person (good question!)? In what ways does this persons un-loveliness
remind you of a time when you were similarly unlovely? Can you glory in the
cross you carry for the joy set before you of being conformed to
Christ-likeness? Can you accept their place in your life as being a tool God is
using to change your heart?
For your loved one, pray
that God will bring him or her to the end of themselves. Ask the Lord to give you
what He wants for them, that they would desire in their hearts to love and
serve Him only.