“Back in the Box!”

20 04 2013

Difficult people are hard to love. I’ve discovered a method that helps me with this. I share it here because I’ve suggested it to others with the same problem, and they’ve later come back to thank me for the recommendation.

This idea first came to me when I was struggling to love a son-in-law of mine. He was rough around the edges, to put it mildly. He didn’t know Jesus, and was ensnared in all kinds of addictions. My daughter and grandchildren were reaping the consequences, and my heart ached for them all.

One day, exasperated beyond words, I cried out to the Lord, “How can I love him? He’s such a mess! I tell him how to straighten up, but he’s not interested in anything I have to say. You’ve got to help me!”

Later that day I was at a fabric store. There by the checkout was a small, red heart-shaped box. I knew in an instant what I needed to do. I purchased the box and headed home.

Pulling out some index cards, I cut one in half and wrote my son-in-law’s name on it; then I placed it in the box. After I put the cover back, I got a Sharpie and wrote, “God’s – Hands Off!” on the outside. Lifting the box toward the ceiling, I said, “Lord, I’ve tried my best to fix this man and he won’t fix. Because he ignores my’ great’ advice, I am so frustrated with him that I can’t find any love in my heart for him at all. I’m giving You his behavior – he is now Your problem. In exchange, I’m asking that You give me Your heart for him. Help me to love him with Your love.”

After that, every time I began the mental gymnastics of “he will say this, then I will say that,” the God Box would come to mind. At first I’d go pick it up and repeat the process of giving him to God. Mostly I would walk around saying, “Back in the box – back in the box!”

This may sound very simplistic, but here is how God honored my desire to love in His name:

My son-in-law is now a disciple of Jesus. He is training his children (my adorable grandkids!) to love the Lord and know His Word. He calls me, “Mom!” and we get along very well. It didn’t happen overnight, but the point is – it happened! He’s thanked me for loving him when he was so unlovely. He hasn’t “arrived,” but God continues to transform him day by day. It’s a wonderful thing to watch.

My experiment turned out so well that I have since added cards for several other “challenging” people in my life. The difference in my attitude toward them is noticeable, and some of my kids have commented on the change they’ve seen in me.

The Lord continues to work in the lives of those whom I’ve put in my box. He seems to do a better job without my help, by the way! In the meantime, I’ve been able to just relax and enjoy each person. I’m no longer highly opinionated about what they’re doing wrong and what they need to do to fix it. Visits with them are comfortable, very enjoyable, because we are free to love…

…but only so long as I keep putting them “Back in the Box!”

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10 responses

21 04 2013
Ann

I have a co-worker who is making it so hard to even pretend to enjoy my job. I know that God has put it on my heart to pray for her. I do. But alas the love is just plain too hard so I give it to God but then I just give up on her. I know that’s not what He wants me to do so am intrigued by your post 🙂 I will give it a try! Thanks!

21 04 2013
lessonsbyheart

If your co-worker is an unbeliever, they’re dead…and dead people stink. They can’t help it.

If they’re a disciple of Jesus, ask Him to show you that person through His eyes. Be prepared – it probably won’t be very pretty. Most are bloody, beaten up lambs who are in such pain that they kick and bite anyone who ventures close.

My heart goes out to you, for it’s not an easy position to be in. Hang on, though. You’ll be so glad you did.

Grace and peace to you, dear sister!

\o/

22 04 2013
Ann

Thank you! Not sure if she’s a corpse or a lamb 🙂 Us sheep can smell pretty bad sometimes too LOL! Off to go see what’s in store for me today (armor on of course!) Blessings!

20 04 2013
inthepottershands988

Wow! What a great testimony! Thanks for sharing. I have a few difficult people in my life as well. It’s not really that I don’t love them it’s just that I see them doing things they shouldn’t do and I want to shake them…<<>> grrr!! “Why are you doing that?! You know you shouldn’t do that!!” God has told me to step back and let them make their mistakes. I don’t have kids, so I imagine this is what it is like to have kids. 🙂

20 04 2013
lessonsbyheart

I have seven kids! This is exactly what it’s like with kids – only on a larger scale. The problem with non-kid fixer-uppers is that they believe that they are under no obligation whatsoever to “mind me!”

Jesus first used “Hairy” (story on his own page at the top here) to show me what I was capable of as I tried to shape people up. It’s not a pretty picture!

Thanks for your comment. 🙂

20 04 2013
Dana Bradley

I remember that time when you started putting the cards in the heart box! It was a while a go. I can vouch for for the change in that young man’s life and your’s also. Turn around about face! All have changed because of loving hearts toward each other. Keep up the great job of writing and giving us insight into our lives and to love those who are hard to love!

20 04 2013
lessonsbyheart

Thanks, Dana. Yeah, being up close and personal every week, you’ve gotten to see us through a lot of stuff. Thanks for your support and encouragement.

I love you!

20 04 2013
dtbrents

I enjoyed your post.

23 04 2013
lessonsbyheart

Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

20 04 2013
lessonsbyheart

I “Liked” this one myself. Actually, I wish there was a button for “Love It,” for I certainly love how this has changed me. There is great freedom in being released of the responsibility to make people to “shape up!”

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