Recently, I was speaking with someone (or at least trying to) who was loud, obnoxious, and constantly interrupting. In that moment, while she yelled about how I needed to do this or that, I was so glad that I prayed before walking through the door.
Everyone has experienced a time where dealing with a difficult person was unavoidable.
You know, those times where you say to yourself,
“UGH! There’s no way to get out of this.”
So what do we do?
Do we yell back? Do we allow the person to bully us into complying with their demands? Do we avoid conflict altogether, making the situation a lot bigger the next time around?
I think we all have acted out each of these scenarios at one time or another.
But what does Jesus ask of us?
Pray before dealing with the situation.
In fact, prayer is not actually the first step but more of the underpinning for how we should live our lives in general. Having a conversation with God should be our go-to, knee-jerk reaction to anything in life-good or bad.
Pray before walking into that school or place of business. Let the call go to voice mail and pray before calling them back. We’ll be less likely to give into our own anger if we spend some time with God first.
Sometimes praying before a conflict isn’t possible because we don’t know ahead of time the encounter was even coming. However, we can take a few seconds to ask Holy Spirit to guide our words before responding.
Once in a conflict, we need to understand what anger really means.
Most people don’t realize that anger is not a primary emotion, but a secondary one caused by something else. This means the woman I was talking to was either hurt, frustrated, or insecure, expressing those emotions with anger.
Because I prayed before walking in the door, I was able to hear when Jesus reminded me of this:
12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. ~Ephesians 6:12
When we start to see people as Jesus sees them, we realize that when we see anger, obnoxiousness, and bitterness, we really see frustration, insecurity, and a wounded heart.
Loving our enemies doesn’t mean we become a doormat.
We can be loving towards someone in spite of their behavior, but also speak the truth in love or walk away to avoid further abuse.
27 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. ~Luke 6:27-28
Start interceding on their behalf. I promise that the more you pray for your offender, the more empathy will develop and the easier it’ll be to show compassion.
Never underestimate the power of grace and love in the midst of a conflict with a difficult person-even if the person doesn’t seem to receive it well. Our unwarranted love for them may be the catalyst to breaking down the walls of anger, allowing a sensitivity to Jesus’ pursuit of their heart.
The truth is, we’ve all been that person at some point in our life.
No one is perfect. We’ve all lost our temper. We’ve all had bad days that turned into a bad attitude. And yet, God always shows us extra grace even though we didn’t deserve it.
9 Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. ~1 Peter 3:9
We are called to be better than repaying evil with evil.
The next time you have to deal with a difficult person, show them the grace and love God constantly gives you.
Maybe even show them a little extra grace…and a little more.
35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” ~John 13:35
And they will know us by our love.