Some time ago, I posted a challenge to myself and readers called the St. Therese (of Lisieux) Challenge. You can read Part 1 here.
The basic idea was this - I wanted to challenge myself and others to live out the Little Way in some form or another in their daily life, to apply the practical teachings of St. Therese in some form or another. My particular challenge involved one lady who shops where I work, and to exercise humility and charity towards her.
Why was this difficult? Because this particular person, in my view, was particularly unlikable. She was always incredibly unpleasant to me and others at my day job, in a whole host of ways. For applying the Little Way, she was a perfect candidate.
With some prayers to St. Therese, I began. Within a few days, I saw her hovering in front of my work area - there was no time for some kind of mental preparation to be nice, to exercise humility - no, it was only a few seconds allotted to me. Enough to think to myself, "Ok, this is it. Here we go."
I forced a smile, said hello, and went to promptly get her her special order of organic milk. I grabbed the freshest date on the milk that I could find, brought it back out, loaded four jugs into her cart for her, and when she said thanks, I replied with "Not a problem at all."
I went into the back, heaved a giant sigh of relief, and thanked God for the grace to be friendly to this woman whom I had done anything and everything prior to this time to avoid.
I now know the woman's name. I now know that her kids went to school with my wife and her sister. When she called to ask about her special order from my boss, she told him to specifically wish me a happy new year. I even ran into her in the woods surrounding my house last week, and she was friendly as pie. She makes small talk with me now at work, and always is sure to thank me for going the extra mile for her.
The reason I say all this is absolutely not to make myself out to be a good Christian person, but to show what exercising a little humility and charity towards those we dislike can do. It actually changes their disposition towards you, but it also softens the sinful heart, and brings us into a closer conformity with Christ.
Thanks be to God.