Do you love well? What would those closest to you say? Honestly, I’d rather ask you that, then tell you what my people would say. I can remember when my pastorhoney told me that the number one thing he wanted in our life was joy.
I looked at him indignantly and said, “Who’s she? I don’t know her! And why is she so great?”
Ugh, joy you interloper!
It’s no fun when you recognize that you aren’t loving well, and you’ve got people standing by to prove it. And so in an attempt to share-the-love of learning to love well all over again, but mostly failing, here are the first 4 of 8 ways to love those who sometimes are the hardest people to love, your loved ones, total paradox! (4 more to come tomorrow) I recently read these in a book I wrote awhile ago, The Fruitful Wife, and realized that I’ve totally forgotten how to do them. So maybe we can try them together, what do you say? If you’re in, I’m in. So here we go:
#1. Allow them to make mistakes. Now, I’m personally against mistakes, they aren’t my thing, but I’ve noticed that everyone else makes them all the time, so if I want someone to love, I guess I’ve got to learn to love someone who makes mistakes. Argh! And that’s not even the hardest part. The hardest part is not jumping all over them when they make those mistakes. I confess that I have a hard time allowing the people I love to get things wrong (well, anybody really). I think it’s because it doesn’t make me look good, especially when they are wrong about me, but in order to love well I know I’ve got to let them make mistakes without regretting the fact that my people just aren’t always right.
How to do it?
No more eye rolls or sour faces.
No taking their mistakes personally or using them against them in the next argument.
No more thinking they don’t love me because they messed up.
No more laughing when they fall down (ok, that one might be too hard to do.)
But you get the picture.
#2. Get over it. Kindness can’t exist in the midst of resentment or a grudge, believe me I’ve tried and it just isn’t possible. So now I’m left with a dilemma, do I allow myself some time to wallow in the anger and frustration, or do I get over it so that I can love? Now, I know that getting over it is better for everyone, but I have to admit that I’m not the best at letting go. Even though I know that the fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, etc – are better for them and me than their opposites – selfishness, complaint, impatience, and meanness – I still have a hard time giving those opposites up. I guess if I would just get over whatever it is that hurt me, we could get to the best fruit of all, but for some reason I can’t seem to always get there. So what to do?
Pray for more fruit.
Feed this fruit to my loved ones.
Toughen up (see my blog post on that)
Trade my pride for some humility (eazy, peezy.)
#3. Don’t keep a record of wrongs. I don’t always have the best memory, so I prefer to write things down, especially when people treat me wrongly. You laugh, but I’ve done it. But I quickly learnt that reading those back to them in times of anger and frustration gets us only deeper into anger and frustration. For some reason I thought bringing up past mistakes would make me look more better, but boy was I wrong!
What to do:
Step 1: Get over it.
Step 2: Remember that they are human and all humans cannot not sin.
Step 3: Consider that maybe you are wrong in thinking what they did was wrong. (Just blew your mind!)
#4. Don’t punish them as their sins deserve. Ok, I just hate this one. I like justice, it’s only fair. So I can’t really fault myself for applying a punishment equal to their sin, now can I? Well, I guess if I accept grace for my sins, I’ve got to let them have it for theirs, it just isn’t going to be easy. So what to do?
Spend 5 minutes a night recording all the times my sins have been forgiven instead of punished.
Pray for those who I want to teach a lesson, that God will teach them the lesson, LOL.
Loving well doesn’t come natural to me, that’s why I’ve got to read books about it, even books that I’ve written myself. I hope that you are learning to love well and that maybe, just maybe my failures and musings have struck a chord with you as you assess how well you love those who love you back. I’m praying for you and hope that these words will remind you of the power of love:
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects,
(1 Corinthians 13:1-7)