Sacrificial Love – Recognizing Redeeming Qualities in Difficult People

April 25, 2017

Sacrificial Love (Main)

This post may seem somewhat hypocritical since it references my mother’s sacrificial love. If you read “Why It Takes More Than Just Time to Heal A Mother Wound,” you know I have quite an emotionally challenging dynamic with my mom.

The older I’ve gotten though, the more I have learned to accept her for who she is (as well as who she isn’t) and recognize her redeeming qualities amidst perceived flaws. Typically, no person is just ALL bad. If we look close enough, even the most abrasive person embodies one or two characteristics that are good.

As I referenced in the post about my mother wound, my mom was actually extraordinarily nurturing in my early years. Which is why I believe her stark shift caused so much confusion and damage. However, there were things that I observed and still hold onto that will always amaze me.

The Sacrificial Love of My Mother

  • Egoless Protection: My mother will defend her children by any means necessary. My siblings and I have seen this up close. And she could care less about the consequences. If that’s jail time, a tarnished reputation, even death.  There are certain things I have never and will never share with her because I know she will not hesitate to act. My friends and I have affectionately nicknamed this side of my mother, “Big Rosa.”
  • Caretaker of All Caretakers: From caring for my paternal grandmother who was far from the easiest to get along with to the way she cared for my father as he was dying, my mother rolled up her sleeves and did whatever she needed to do without uttering a word. I developed an entirely new respect for her when I saw how tenderly she cared for my father. I’ll never forget the nights my father would fall either on his way to or from the bathroom, and before I could make it to him, my mother was already there picking him up and walking back into the bedroom with him. She was so selfless, patient, attentive, and loving.
  • Silent Suffering: After my father passed, my mom did everything possible to make sure my life was undisturbed. She cared more about how I was faring than she did her own need to grieve. This ultimately resulted in her having a brain aneurysm. It wasn’t until this happened that I realized the tremendous load she’d been carrying. Even after almost dying, my mother willed herself back to health because she didn’t want me to have to suffer.

When I’m struggling emotionally to sort through the desires of my heart versus what is, I try my best to focus on these things. The fact that, my mom does have some incredible redeeming qualities and every interaction is not bad. Actually, there are some interactions that are pretty good. And here’s the great news…This posture can be applied to any challenging relationship.

3 Ways to Recognize Redeeming Qualities In Difficult People

  1. Make a List: It’s amazing what happens when you are armed with pen and paper. Often times thoughts you didn’t know you had just begin flowing. Write down as many positive qualities about the person (let’s say it’s your brother) you think of.
  2. Soak In Their Goodness: After you’ve finished making your list, read over it and reflect on instances where your brother exhibited these qualities. Jot down your reflections under your list.
  3. Establish Honoring Boundaries: Ya’ll should’ve known I was going to mention boundaries. One of the most effective ways to facilitate this paradigm shift is to protect it. Remember, just because you change your perspective doesn’t mean they’re no longer difficult. You will need to ensure your interactions are in line with your emotional safety. If you need to exit a conversation because you see it heading in a toxic direction, do so. It’s easier to recover from proactively exiting a conversation than it is exiting in the height of conflict. This will also allow you to maintain your positive regard for the person. In essence, you are protecting yourself and the person from unnecessary relational tension.

My hope and prayer is that the Lord will continue to reveal the redeeming qualities of the difficult people in our lives, and those qualities will dim the light on the things that have been a source of pain for so long.

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