It’s clear we won’t get along with everyone. Sometimes our personalities will clash, we might hold significantly different values, or past hurts might strain our relationship with each other. But we can still choose kindness toward those we don’t like.
Of course, it’s easy to be kind to those we like. It feels only natural to be generous and extend understanding toward them, while this is much harder with those we don’t like.
But the call to love is not dependent on our feelings toward each other, as we’re called to love even our enemies.
By definition, an enemy is not a friend. And so love does not require warm and fuzzy feelings for each other. But without the natural desire to bring good it can be hard to know how to love those we don’t like.
It starts with kindness.
For instance, we don’t have to like someone to still respect his basic human dignity. And instead of vilifying and seeing him as completely given to evil, we can humanize him and see him as a mixed bag of the good, the bad, and the ugly.
This keeps us from being cruel, vindictive, or indifferent and allows us to be gracious and considerate.
In short, we don’t hold back offering good when it is within our power to give it. And this might be as simple as praying for them, blessing them, or speaking words of life over them.
To be sure, a natural affection might never grow for the other person, but we don’t have to curse them in our hearts just because we don’t like them.
We let bitterness poison our own hearts when we don’t practice kindness toward others, even those we don’t get along with.
In the end, loving difficult people is hard. But it starts with simple acts of kindness.