Q: A fellow colleague at work clearly dislikes me, has from day one. He refuses to say Hello and ignores my presence.
Should I keep trying to be friendly by saying hello or should I give up after many months and simply ignore him too?
A: This is a grinding, irritating, "constant pain" situation that grinds you down and can easily effect everyone around.
There could be many sides to this: Does he treat others this way? Is this his "management style?"
Is he harboring resentments? Are there deeper problems here? Is it something personal?
You indicate your willingness to be friendly, but to no avail. Now what?
Assuming it's that his dislike for you has a reason and is not irrational, it's important to realize that you cannot change another person's behavior. You can only change yours.
On the job, if their behavior is affecting the workplace, then you have an option to take the matter "upstairs." (Unless he is the supervisor or owner, then you have another problem!)
However, such situations often show up in neighborhoods, families, civic organizations and yes, even churches.
How you respond says much about what you've learned about God. This is where "love your enemy" becomes up close and personal.
The big danger to you is to end up acting like him: anti-social and hardened against people.
Choosing the same tactics that have hurt you may be a "natural" reaction, but they will backfire.
We lose part of ourselves when we "fight fire with fire."
In Matthew 18:22, Jesus directs Peter to forgive "seventy-seven times," meaning an infinite number. In other words, don't give up on them, no matter what.
Can you continue to offer the common courtesy of daily greetings even when he refuses to return them?
Can you include him in conversations and activities even when he clearly wants no part of you?
Can you hold him in prayer, looking for his heart to be softened and penetrated by God's love and praying for health and wholeness in his life even if his actions get worse?
Can you listen for God's word in all this?
There is much we can do even when someone regularly inflicts rejection and disdain on us. The continual application of love in the face of antagonism has often changed and healed the most broken people, the most damaged relationships.
Of course, God doesn't want us to be doormats either. It's important to find ways to cushion the hurt as you respond in love. You can protect yourself from further harm even as you find a way to let love shine through this situation.
But just as God hasn't given up on us through Christ, with God's strength and grace we can continue to treat this person as a loved creation of God.
We can pray for change and offer reconciliation, while we wait for the signs of growth and insight.
It's not easy, but it's awesomely powerful. And it's God's work.