Be honest. Do you know anyone who is hard for you to love? A family member? Your boss? A colleague at the office? A neighbor? As Charlie Brown used to say in the old “Peanuts” comic strip, “I love humanity… it’s just people I can’t stand!” If we’re honest, we all know people who are hard for us to love. And, if we’re even more honest, WE are hard to love, too! Keeping our own idiosyncrasies in mind gives us a helpful perspective on learning how to love other people.

The hard truth is that we only learn how to love when we have to love “challenging people.” Jesus invites us, and even commands us, to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. As long as we love those who love us, or those who are like us, we never truly learn how to love.

We only learn how to love when we are stretched beyond our own human capacity. What’s tough about this is that God commands us to love people who we see as a “nuisance.” God even commands us to love people we don’t like! So …how can we do this? The key is coming to the realization that it is impossible for us to love certain people. We can’t do it … on our own power. It only happens when we ask God to love people through us. It is God’s love flowing through us that enables us to love a difficult person. Are you willing to allow God to love someone through you?

But watch out … if you read this poem below and take it seriously … God might use it to change your life.

“Outwitted”
A Poem by Edwin Markham

He drew a circle that shut me out
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout
But love and I had the wit to win
We drew a circle….

That took him in!

Reflection Questions

Write your responses in your journal.

  • When in the recent past did someone draw a circle that took you in? What did that mean to you?
  • When in the recent past did someone draw a circle that shut you out? What did that feel like?

An Experiment in Loving Difficult People

Think of someone who is hard (even impossible) for you to love. Try drawing a circle that “takes them in” this coming week. How will you invite them into the circle? What are you waiting for?