Love Your Nellie

Nellie is the girl we all loved to hate as kids. She’s the one who made us gasp at her rudeness, vindictiveness and manipulation. She told bold face lies and seemed to get away with it. (A close second was her mother, who got even more of a reaction because she was a grown up and should have known better!!) We learned how NOT to act by watching her antics.

We all have a “Nellie” in our lives. I’m sure you can think of her right now. You know—She’s the one who criticizes you, stands in your way, talks behind your back while being nice to your face. But Ma Ingalls was right. We need to love our Nellie or we are just as bad as she is.

The rude cashier. The distracted waitress. The miserable looking bank teller. The outspoken know-it-all.

The unreasonable child.  The interfering mother in law.  The annoying junior higher. The callous neighbor.

We need to love them. Even though it’s hard. Even though it hurts. It has to be done. The flesh needs to put down all of the excuses and reasons why you are exempt from loving, and just love them because it is the right thing to do.

The commands are plain-

“Love as I have loved you.”  “Love is kind, patient, never rude.”  “Love your enemies, and do good to them who despitefully use you.”

Do you love like this? Or is your “love” a self centered,  self serving kind of love? Is it a Nellie love? A “Just when you want something or can get something” kind of love?

My mother was right. Hurt people hurt other people. They don’t know any other way. But we do. We know better. It is the way of sacrificial love. The way walked out by Christ for our example.

When we love well, those who mistreat us,

and they know they deserve punishment,

but instead receive gracious love,

we are never more Christlike.

And sometimes that is the kind of love that melts the heart and effects the soul.

Need some help loving that unlovely person in your life? These are books I have read and recommend:

How Can I Love Those Prickly People by Juanita Purcell (excellent Bible Study)

How To Deal With Annoying People by Bob Phillips

Peacemaking Women by Tara Barthel

Choosing Forgiveness by Nancy Leigh DeMoss (a MUST READ for every Christian Woman!!!)


  1. Tammie says:

    Why oh why did you have to write this post :). Let me go call my mother in law and invite her to dinner tomorrow.

  2. Thank you for this gentle reminder. I needed it.

  3. Linda says:

    I second that. I needed the reminder, and yes, I could think of a Nellie in my life without straining!

  4. Funny, we were just discussing this very subject in our home this morning. Thanks for sharing!

  5. I always need this reminder. Yes, I do. God is good! Thank you.

  6. We watch Little House every Thursday night together…watching our way through the series…just had a similar conversation after last week’s episode…Nellie and Laura fighting over Almanzo :)
    This is great Sarah :)

  7. Ashlie says:

    My sisters and I watched Little House on the Prairie ALL the time when we were growing up! Such good memories. and yes, we were Nellie-haters. :) such a great comparison to a truth I need to be reminded of often. It’s so easy to be unloving to those who are unloving only because of their hurting hearts.

    “the kind of love the melts the heart and affects the soul”…oh yes, Lord, help it to be so!

    Thank you, Sarah…such a great post!

  8. estherjoy says:

    Great post! Good reminder! You couldn’t have picked a better character to exemplify this!

  9. and now I have pulled all the LHOTP dvd’s onto my Netflix Queue! :)

    • SJBeals says:

      Can’t wait to watch my Christmas LHOTP episodes! I cry when Mr. Edwards brings Ma the sweet potatoes on Christmas Eve. :)

  10. Mrs. T says:

    I didn’t watch Little House on the Prairie growing up, but I did read the books and then read them aloud over & over to my kids. Nellie was just as mean in the books as she was on TV! I have definitely had Nellies in my life. I had not ever thought of what your mother said — Hurt people hurt other people. What a wise, true statement.

    There’s much to ponder in this post. Thanks for linking to it.

  11. Michelle says:

    And yet, the only person who cared enough about Nellie to affect any change in her was the man she ended up marrying. He loved her enough to confront her about her sin and entitlement issues.

    No one was ever brave enough to love her that boldly.

    I highly recommend Bold Love for those who desire to love those who are abusive and continually keep getting worse. It was the only book that ever set me free to love both unconditionally and bravely.