Learning to love an unlovable person

Showing love to one another is, without doubt, the most beautiful thing about human interactions. Nevertheless, it can be very taxing for us to love an unlovable fellow. The following ideas, however, can help us in addressing this challenge.

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  • It is not uncommon to hear someone complain about how badly they dislike someone because they strongly feel that the fellow does not love them. Some people are too malicious or wicked to elicit love from the hearts of those around them. But interestingly, that is what love challenges us to overcome.

  • Extending a loving heart to a fellow who loves you back is nothing out of the ordinary. In fact, it is expected. The best show of love is directed at those who do not exhibit any love toward us. This is the greatest call of love, to which men and women of strength are expected to answer. One must not, however, delude himself into supposing that answering this call is easy. It requires great strength to show love toward an unlovable fellow.

  • Almost all religions uphold this wonderful virtue of love and every conscience appreciates its significance. Transcending this understanding is the compelling need to show by our deeds our love for those whom we, ordinarily, would have hated. The following ideas can prove extremely helpful in rising up to the occasion:

  • We must have a clear understanding of what love really is

  • Having read a myriad of definitions of the word love, I noticed some elements that run through them — the words "unconditional," "unselfish," and "benevolent." Anybody that truly loves someone must show an unconditional and unselfish concern for the good of that person. This concern must be kind and not seeking to profit materially in any way. Showing love toward a person whom you expect to get some benefit from is essentially serving your own interest. A passage from the Bible perfectly encapsulates the foregoing:

  • "But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you. And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloak forbid not to take thy coat also. Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again. And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same. And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again, and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil." (Luke 6:27-35 KJV)

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  • Clearly, true love is sincere, unselfish, and completely unconditional.

  • We must have a forgiving heart

  • Understanding love leads you to the stage where you demonstrate this love by deeds. In showing this love, you must embody certain great virtues. The first of these virtues is a forgiving heart.

  • At this stage, take note that an unlovable person will always seize the slimmest opportunity to harm you without showing any feeling of contrition afterwards. Dealing with such a person requires a really big heart. Having a forgiving heart, one is expected to always find a way to forgive those who hurt them and perpetrate all manner of evil against them.

  • It is not easy, but it is the best way to respond to evil. Henry Wheeler Shaw, the great 19th-century American writer advises, "There is no revenge so complete as forgiveness." Even those who wish to avenge ill-treatment from another person should take note that the answer is forgiveness. There is nothing that annoys your enemies more than forgiving them.

  • We must have a lot of patience

  • Love calls on us to be longsuffering even in the face of the most annoying and malicious treatments from others. The story of the nature of patience is interesting: Patience is respected and admired, and every day as we forgive a person that hurts us we grow and increase our strength; however, if we decide to lose our patience just one day and try to pay the fellow back in their own coin, we render all the moments of patience we have had in the past completely meaningless.

  • Showing patience must be a daily affair. It is only in having patience that our will of showing love to an unlovable fellow can be realized. The American statesman Benjamin Franklin once noted, "He that can have patience can have what he will." Therefore, a person who fails to have patience is bound to fail in their effort to show love to those who hurt them. Patience in this regard requires putting up with unfriendly behavior as you extend a hand of love without any reprisal.

  • We must avoid doing things which ignite hatred

  • Malicious treatments from an unlovable fellow can be unreasonable. However, we must try the best we can to minimize or eliminate our actions which appear to invite their ill-treatments. For instance, if you wake up at six in the morning to prepare for work, you may have to compete to use the bathroom. If this competition tends to be the spark of an ill feeling with another, change the time you wake up to avoid any clash if you can. This is not a sign of weakness. On the contrary, it is a sign of strength.

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  • Loving a fellow who does not love you back requires a lot of strength. Therefore, Mahatma Gandhi could not have put it better when he remarked that, "A coward is incapable of exhibiting love; it is the prerogative of the brave." If we succeed in showing love to an unlovable person, great joy shall definitely be our reward.

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Michael Ohene Aboagye lives in Accra, Ghana. He is a graduate of the prestigious Ghana Institute of Journalism, holding a bachelor's degree in communication studies.

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