Monday, October 14, 2013
I read this question today and I love it.
"How do you love the friends the Lord has put in your life, even if he or she may not be so loveable?" (Heidi St. John)
I love it because I am passionate about people and relationships and this is a question that we, as Christ followers, need to ask ourselves regularly. A number of times, I've seen people avoid each other and justify it by saying things like "Some people just don't get along" or "As long as we're polite, that's good enough" and various things that show they don't want the trouble of truly loving the difficult people in their lives. I get it - it's hard. I have found myself willing to throw in the towel at times.
But, friends and family aren't relationships to be ignored or thrown away. God allows certain people in our lives, people HE loves immensely, to give us an opportunity to grow and learn from those that are different from us. Years ago I found that a relationship I thought couldn't thrive, turned out wonderful because I was willing to view the other person as God does (It wasn't just me - I know the other person was gracious as we worked to understand each other). It was actually quite easy to be friends when we had the mind set that God wants every relationship to bear the fruit of the spirit. As a result of our efforts, God has used us to be a great encouragement to each other over the years. He knew all along the support and friendship He was willing to provide each of us, but we could have missed out on it by choosing to believe we knew better than He who is worthy of our friendship.
Of course, we choose our friends many times throughout our lives, but sometimes there are people chosen for us. We all have people that are part of our lives that we didn't choose to be there - but, there they are. Isn't building a relationship with those people a perfect opportunity to honor God? It honors God because it brings unity in believers and families. It honors God, because we are more like Him when we choose to love.
Sometimes we make the choice to love the unlovable friends we have, just to be hit with rejection. Obviously, not everyone is ready or willing to make this same choice, maybe not even realizing that this is an area of our lives God wants to use.
This makes it hard and sometimes I feel like saying it's okay to give up on loving this unlovable friend, except that God continues to have them in my life and I believe He expects me to love them whether it is returned or not.
Relationships aren't just for our enjoyment, but for our growth. They are the best opportunity we have to become more like Christ.
I am learning that it takes a willingness to die to self when you know you need to show love to someone where it won't be appreciated or reciprocated. Because it's hard to die to self, I don't always choose love. Sometimes I choose to avoid, instead. Sometimes I choose to be frustrated or hurt. But, when I choose to show kindness in the difficult times, I know I am pleasing God. I am acting more like Him and that is what makes choosing to love worth it.
I would love to hear how you show love to your unlovable friends. What things do you do? What things do you refrain from doing? You can write in the comment box, the fb comments or message me.
Here are some things that I purposely do:
I pray for me. I ask the Lord for a willingness to value each and every relationship He has placed in my life and for strength to put myself aside and do whatever He asks of me. If I don't do this, I start to fear rejection, get prideful and justify why I don't need difficult people in my life, and basically, I'll act like me, instead of Him.
I pray for the unlovable. It's hard to be critical of someone when God starts to show you that person the way He sees them. It also gives me a stronger desire to see the relationship grow.
I try to be nice. I don't believe in being fake - in fact, I hate it when people are superficial (they are usually more obvious than they think) - but, I look for ways to do or say something genuinely nice to that person. If I can't do it sincerely, I wait until I can. They may not appreciate it, and it may even annoy them, but at least I know I am choosing to trust that God put this person in my life for a reason and I'm actively working on loving. (Proverbs 25:21-22)
The final thing I try to do (notice I say 'try') is to 'Let go and let God'. As long as my heart is right toward honoring the relationships God put in my life, then I can leave the rest up to Him. God won't force someone to trust His choices for them, but He is the One who can change hearts. Although, they may never change in their actions toward me, I am changing with every act of obedience to the Lord, so I can be happy with that and let Him worry about the rest.
I know satan does not want unity and love among believers, so he is good at trying to prove that working at these relationships is unnecessary. He tries to prove why the unlovable aren't worthy of our efforts. I have to guard myself (with prayer and scripture) against these thoughts, because I don't want to be like him. I want to be like Christ, who values a relationship with me, even though I am a sinner that He could deem unlovable. I am so thankful for His friendship, and all the loveable and loving friends He has given me, and all the difficult ones as well, because these are the things that draw me closer to Him.