Emotions with difficult people

by Connie Hodsdon Champeon | August 10, 2023

Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.” (Philippians 2:3)

Guess what?

There are a few (maybe a lot) of people out there who see me as the difficult person 😬. Hard to believe, I know.

But seriously, we all are, each of us is the difficult person for someone else. Realizing this truth is a big part of humbling myself. They struggle to get over how obnoxious I am the same way I am struggling with this person right now. And they are at least partly right. At the very least, all the parts of me that aren’t fully surrendered to Christ can be pretty obnoxious. Even when I’m fully being the person God made me to be, other parts of the body can find it difficult to appreciate the role He put me here to play and vice versa.

But what about those people who really are a problem and really do have issues – and the ones that I struggle with the most are the ones who don’t see it, think they are right and never acknowledge the pain and destruction they cause.

I have tried the appreciation exercises – think of one thing they do well or you are grateful for about them. Problem is, sometimes I can’t think of any, no matter how hard I try. They all come out sounding like sarcasm, “I’m grateful you are such a lousy leader because I’ve learned to never be anything like you.”

There are people that God seems to put in my life just to be sandpaper, to rub off my rough edges. But even at their worst, if all the things I think about them are true, they are still an image bearer of God. “With the tongue we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness.” (James 3:9). The word ‘curse’ means “to feel or express great loathing for.”

Okay, I don’t think I’ve ever damned anyone or wished them dead so I never felt convicted by this verse. But I’ve got to confess there’s a decently long list of people who I “feel or express great loathing for.” But I am not seeing the true picture, the image of God stamped on them. In the ways they bare His image, no matter how marred it is by their sin, I am to be grateful.

A few verses later James says “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by his good conduct that his deeds are done in gentleness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, don’t boast and don’t lie against the truth” (Jam 3:13-14).

A godly response to people I find difficult is ALWAYS gentleness and wisdom. When I feel things otherwise, I know that regardless of what they’ve done to deserve such loathing, I am not right before God. My responses and emotions are not dictated by others but by the love my Savior has poured out on me. How has God responded to my sin and brokenness? God has poured out His love and grace. So how am I to respond to others’ sin and brokenness? Out of the abundance of the love and grace He has poured out on me.

I think a lot of my struggle is humility. I don’t want them to think they are right or that it is okay for them to do what they are doing. I feel better if they know how wrong they are. But that’s not my job. It’s the Spirit’s job to convict them of sin. He’s perfectly capable of doing it without my help. It’s my job to humble myself and serve as a gentle, wise follower of Christ.

Dear Father, thank you that I can trust You with people I find challenging. Forgive me for trying to fix them myself. Forgive me for loathing people created in your image. Help me to respond in humility, wisdom and gentleness instead of in my flesh.

Connie Hodsdon Champeon is a beloved daughter of the King, besotten wife, loyal friend, and international linguistics consultant.

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