LOVING THE DIFFICULT PERSON (By Wanda Stutzman)

She was one of the most eccentric people I ever met. In fact, the whole community talked about her and her unique personality. At the age of 16, all I wanted was a challenge and to go against the norm, so I applied for a job at her bookstore.  It was an experience I’ll never forget. 

She paid me $2 an hour and made it very clear that she would not pay me more. I smiled, because what she didn’t know was that I wasn’t in this for the money. She was my ‘project’ and I would watch love win in this whole experiment.

My one day a week job turned out to be very interesting.  She would grumble and complain and talk rudely about her variety of customers.  But the next minute, I would see her do an act of kindness that left even me with my mouth hanging open. She was not easily swayed or pushed around. What she believed in, she was passionate about. I began to see an old lady with a big heart, who had perhaps been on the end of the judging stick a few more times than she deserved.

When it came time for me to move on, and make real wages, we said good-bye on the best of terms. I’d stop back to see her on occasion, and I always knew I had a friend in that little store. And every year when Fall Festival time rolled around, she’d call my house and tell whoever answered the phone to make sure and “tell Wanda to stop by for her button”,  my free pass to the festival.  

I don’t know if she knew she was my project. I was a young, foolish girl who thought I could make a difference in the life of this lonely old woman.  When it was all said and done, I believe she made a greater difference in my life than I ever did in hers.

God doesn’t always ask us to reach out to people who are easy to love. Sometimes He asks us to love those who are difficult to love and who require more from us than we’ll ever get from them. He makes our paths cross at times with people who just complicate our life, add a new dimension of stress, and stretch our most ‘Christian” attitudes.

I don’t know about you, but I believe God puts those people in our lives not so much for what we can do for them, but for what He wants to do in our hearts. 

This week, make that phone call, pay a visit to that person, give of yourself for someone else, and forget about who gets what out of it all. Your greatest blessing may be just around the corner.

*I John 4:7-11

Wanda Stutzman