Difficult People By Karen Spruill

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“If you work with the disadvantaged, don’t let yourself get irritated with them or depressed by them. Keep a smile on your face.” Romans 12:8, MG.

The other evening my husband and I attended a memorial service for one of our clients. We had both provided professional services for this person, however, I had him as a client for more than 2 1/2 years. He was one of the most depressed and wounded persons that I have encountered. He finally succumbed to a painful terminal illness. And those last few months were very difficult for anyone who had to watch him waste away. Over the months, I responded with a variety of emotions to his mental processes and his disease. Sometimes it was just wearisome to be with someone who never budged past angry, isolated and depressed. Yet I sensed that God wanted me to stay by this person.

So at the memorial service I got to hear other people share some of their stories of being with this client in his past. They laughed and cried at his “quirkiness” and habits. It was a release for all of us to share how one person had impacted us.

At the end of the service, one man who had been the consistent friend and caretaker, voiced how much he would miss the deceased. They had spent a lot of time together in the final months, and he acknowledged that even with the deceased’s flaws, “He was my pain-in-the-butt.” And yes, I, too, will miss my time with this Pain in the Butt. I am the holder of many of his secrets and his strengths.

It seems that God was doing something in the lives of those who knew this sad person. Perhaps we thought we were doing something for him, but greater yet was what he was teaching us about patience and caring in the face of infected life wounds.

Francis Scott Shaeffer used to write that on this earth there is the possibility of “substantial healing,” not be confused with perfect healing. I think our experience with the client reminds me of God’s devotion and patience with each of us. He alone knows our full story. I believe He looks at each of us with tender eyes and loves us for what we are, His “sad one,” “silly one,” “addicted one,” or one of many “pains-in-the-butt.” Yet we are His.

Questions for personal journaling or group discussion:

1. Has God called you to “come along side” a very difficult person?

2. How is that changing you? How will you know if you should continue?

Karen Spruill writes from Orlando, Florida. All rights reserved © 2011 AnswersForMe.org. Click here for content usage information.

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