By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
Friend to Friend
Grandchildren often remind me how to find joy in the simple things of life. When our twin grandchildren were about two years old, I took them on a little shopping trip. When Mimi comes for a visit, there is always a shopping trip on the agenda. Lelia and Jaydan piled into the car, and we headed to the store. I think I was more excited than they were. That’s how grandmothers are.
Once inside the store, we grabbed a shopping cart, and off we went in search of treasures. In other words, we needed toys!
As we headed to the toy section of the store, we passed the pharmacy – which reminded me that I needed to pick up some vitamins. The twins were very patient as I searched the pharmacy shelves and found what I needed. I tossed the box of vitamins in the cart and said, “Let’s go! The toys are just ahead!”
When we reached the first aisle of the toy section, I reminded Lelia and Jaydan that they could each pick one very special toy for Mimi to buy. Jaydan headed straight for the “crucks” and cars. No surprise there! But Lelia didn’t seem very interested in looking at much of anything. Now that was surprising!
As I tried to figure out what the problem could possibly be, I spotted something pink out of the corner of my eye. A closer look revealed a small pink box of Hello Kitty Band-Aids clutched tightly in Lelia’s little hands. Judging from the slightly crumpled box, I knew she had been holding her treasure for some time.
Suddenly it hit me. The vitamin aisle! Evidently, Lelia had done a little looking on her own while I was searching for my vitamins, and had come up with a box of Band-Aids. But Mimi did not travel all the way from Kansas to North Carolina to buy her precious little granddaughter a paltry box of Band-Aids!
When I tried to persuade Lelia to pick something else – something a little more exciting than Band-Aids – she politely refused. Lelia was happy, but Mimi was not. I wanted to buy her a “real” toy, but what Lelia really wanted was a box of Hello Kitty Band-Aids.
We often treat the difficult people in our lives the same way. Have you noticed that sandpaper people are usually needy people? I have discovered that their irritating behavior is often nothing more than a disguised plea for help.
True love is God’s love. It looks beyond abrasive behavior to see and meet the real needs hidden there.
Meeting a need in the life of a sandpaper person can be messy and usually demands a sacrifice of some kind on our part. It is easier to simply placate or avoid difficult people than it is to love them the way they need to be loved – not in a way that makes our life easier. For example, when we see that sandpaper person coming, we turn around and head in the opposite direction. When the caller ID shows the name of a sandpaper person in our life, we do not answer. Hurried conversations replace a listening heart. We offer tolerance instead of acceptance.
And God is not pleased. He is committed to our character – not our comfort.
God wants us to love each other in the same way that He loves – unconditionally. In fact, God wants us to love in such a way that the people around us will know we are fully devoted followers of Christ. I wonder what our relationships would look like if we did love the way Jesus loves us.
Nowhere in the Bible will you find the words, “When you feel like it, love others.” Nope! It is not in there.
The Bible tells us to practice love. Love is an ongoing and very deliberate choice – not an emotion or a feeling. I challenge you to step out in faith today and choose to love that difficult person in your life the way Jesus loves you.
Father, I have to thank You for looking beyond my faults and for loving me unconditionally. Forgive me when I fail to love others in the same way. Give me eyes to see the needs of the difficult people in my life, and show me how to meet those needs in a way that pleases You.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
Read the following commitment and fill in the blanks with the name of your sandpaper person. Be sure to sign and date your commitment.
Father, I choose to love _____________________ as a step of obedience to You.
I will show Your love to _____________________ by sending her/him a note of encouragement. I will pray for _____________________, remembering that he/she is made in Your image and that You love him/her just as much as You love me.
Sign____________________________ Date _____________________________
More from the Girlfriends
Need help learning to love the difficult people in your life? Get Mary’s MP3 download, Sandpaper People for practical steps you can take to love the way Jesus loves.