We all know in our minds and in our hearts that we’re called to love others. With most people this isn’t an issue. As Jesus said, even the tax collectors love their friends. The hard part is loving those that we find hard to love. We’re called to love them in spite of the actions and behaviors that get under our skin.
Something that’s hit me when reflecting on this (typically after an encounter that leaves me wondering how I could possibly love such a person) is that I, myself, must have traits and characteristics that rub some people the wrong way. Since everyone is different, something I do that my wife or family loves about me might be the very same thing that annoys another person. Similar to everyone else, I certainly want others to love me for who I am and don’t want them to pick and choose parts of me to take or leave.
Doesn’t it follow that we should offer that same treatment to others? If we would like them to overlook some of our own quirks, shouldn’t we overlook theirs? Keeping this in mind may be extremely beneficial in finding a way to love someone that we consider “hard to love”.
An important lesson I remember learning during the Marriage Preparations that the Catholic Church requires in my diocese is that, in a marriage, you oftentimes have to make the choice to love your spouse rather than the “love” just being there. Times get difficult and during those times you can’t depend on a feeling to be there…you can, however, depend on your own ability to make that decision to love. That same decision can be made with those we know and acquaint ourselves to.
I recognize that doing this can be very difficult in the heat of the moment or when emotions are running high. I counter that with the question, “Isn’t that part of our desire to grow and become better people?” None of us are perfect (as proven in the fact this challenge even exists), so it’s going to take effort for all of us to improve in this aspect of our relationships with others. The key here is to continue to try our best and to get back up and try again when we’ve failed. That’s much more possible to do if we remain aware of ourselves and our actions in the moment and that we take time to reflect on our actions after they’ve occurred.