A few weeks ago I found myself frustrated with someone, someone I didn’t know well. My feelings toward her weren’t exactly loving, and as I’m well aware that God tells us we are to love people, I knew the direction I needed to head.
But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. Luke 6:27-28 ESV
Although this person wasn’t an “enemy,” this was the verse that came to mind. (The point was - there’s no getting around having to love her.) I know this seems like a Christian “kindergarten” principle, and yet I’m sure it’s on the list of things we as believers struggle to walk out in day to day life.
I contemplated my situation in the quiet of my bathroom as I stood by the window and looked outside. I should have known better than to be thinking about it in there, as it seems to be the place where God often likes to talk to me. (I know I’m not the only one whose bathroom doubles as their prayer closet. If my husband would just give up his side of the closet, I wouldn’t have to hang out in the bathroom.)
I proceeded to do what I always do when I encounter someone who is a little more challenging to love - I try to look deeper and figure them out. I attempt to see into their brokenness and find that “understanding.” We all act the way we do for a reason. Usually when we are more difficult to love, we are hurt, broken, worn out, afraid, protecting ourselves, insecure, etc… You get the idea. It would take extra thinking to reach a revelation on the inner workings of this individual as I didn’t know her well.
I was in the middle of my ponderings when I felt God looking at me, saying, “Whatcha doing?” Well, I knew He knew exactly what I was doing. He was letting me know that He knew. In that moment there was something else that became clear...
Apparently, God calls us to love others WITHOUT understanding. He wanted me to just love her. Not because I found some reason to love her, nor because I found a way to make it easier. He said to love people, and that’s all I needed to know. It’s hard to argue with someone who’s always right. Now I know how my husband must feel. (Okay, okay, so that’s mostly not true. Fine. It’s not true, but I had to go there. Everything was laid out so perfectly.)
On top of that, later that day I found myself suffering through a mommy martyr moment. (Basically, I was tired, made a mess, and had to clean it up by myself.) As I was feeling sorry for how I was severely suffering (major exaggeration) and no one appreciated what I was doing (No one actually knew about me spilling liquid laundry detergent on the carpet and all over the shelf under the sink. Yup.), God showed up again. (You know what - the mess I was cleaning up was in our laundry room/BATHROOM! It wasn’t the bathroom God normally shows up in, so I wasn’t expecting what happened next. I see now no bathroom is off limits.)
As I was on my knees trying to clean soap out of the carpet without making an obscene amount of bubbles, a picture of Jesus hanging on the cross suddenly came to the forefront of my mind. People were jeering at Him. And He LOVED every last one of them. (Jesus was also suffering, truly suffering, and He wasn’t complaining about it. God hit on both things I had been struggling with that day in one mental picture. Nicely done.)
Tying this all together - God calls us to love others. Jesus knows what it’s like to love angry, difficult, rude, (insert your own word - I know you got one), frustrating people. He’s not asking us to do this humanly impossible feat on our own. He wants to help us.
What I’m learning is that so often when God asks us to do something, He’s really asking us to allow Him to do it through us. We need Him to help us forgive, love, overcome, be strengthened, etc… As we surrender to Him and acknowledge our need for His help, He does these things in and through us.
As I left that bathroom the process of loving this person began in me with the Holy Spirit’s help. And though I still can find reason to be annoyed with her, something has been settled in my heart. God has deposited His peace where the annoyance had been. If the frustration returns, I hope to find myself on my knees once more, surrendering to a loving Heavenly Father, thanking Him that He is willing to flow through me yet again if I only ask.
A little less cranky and bit more loving,
P.S. Real love doesn't sacrifice God’s Truth. God’s Truth doesn’t sacrifice His love. Jesus walked in both and wants us to as well through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. I John 3:18 ESV