For all of us there are people we find it difficult to love, because they have harmed us, upset us or simply irritate us. We know we should, but it’s hard to do. Here’s a practice I find helpful. The idea is to work up to the difficult person in small steps. Give it a try, but perhaps it is better to use it a few times and have found it effective before you include someone who has hurt you deeply.
Sit quietly and relax.
Pray for yourself, for good health, happiness and peace.
Visualise someone you find easy to love. Pray for the same things for them.
Now pray for someone you have no strong feelings about – it could be a neighbour you often greet and then pass on, or someone in church you don’t know well.
Only then, pray for the person you find difficult. Visualise health, happiness and peace for him or her.
Finally pray for God’s blessing on everyone and all of creation.
As with all spiritual practices, our prayer is primarily because God desires it, and for the benefit of others, but you will also find you become a happier, calmer and more loving person.
I would be interested to know whether this works for you.