Over the last couple of months, if you’ve been keeping up with my blog, you recognize I have walked through several painful experiences. I don’t want to revisit those or dwell on them. I find myself struggling with forgiveness and bitterness. Just a bit of honesty there. I have gotten past some incidents and not others. Every day gets a little easier, but the snare remains. I stumble over it, like a blind man, on a regular basis.
The other day I was praying for clarity. I couldn’t understand the other person’s viewpoint and how things got so horribly wrong. Couldn’t they see *my* point of view?! I was grousing to God about them and I felt like the Lord said, “Could you just love them?”
Pardon? Must’ve been something stuck in my ears. Could you repeat that?
“Susan, could you love them anyway? Even though they’ve hurt you deeply and made you feel terrible, they deserve your love.”
I mentally stamped my foot like a toddler in the toy section. I don’t wanna! You can’t make me! I want to call them on their stuff. I want to squish them like a bug first. Then, graciously and with great tenderness, I will scrape them up off the ground, cradle their limp, broken body in my hands, and forgive them.
But that isn’t love.
And then, another insight. What if the incredible analysis I apply to others’ shortcomings others apply to mine? What if my foibles are as blatantly on display to them, like neon lights shining in a velvet-dark sky, as theirs are to me? Kinda like your underwear peeking out, no matter what you wear.
This, friends, calls for more grace, not less. I tend to forget that the Bride of Christ – the Church – is made up of people. I expect people to measure up to my standards quick, fast and in a hurry. Yet we are all fallible, insensitive, unkind, unloving, judgmental…at different times. We need each other but none of us is perfect. The entire Bible is made up of stories and decisions of people who tried to follow God to the best of their abilities. Sometimes they failed; sometimes they succeeded. But all of them, every single one, was loved.
Here’s a doozy: If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a Christian brother or sister, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see? – 1 John 4:20.
I have some work to do. I am not sure how to show love at this point, but I have no doubt God will prompt me. Now that I write this, I am reminded that I had been praying for God to increase my capacity to love. It’s time to stretch the tent pegs.