Thursday, October 11, 2012

Love with grace.

I've started, erased, and restarted this post about six times now.  The girl who is always so good with words currently cannot figure out the right way to say this.   At least, to say it without hurting people whom I love and who love me.

I know these people love me.  I know the reason they are so protective and willing to fight against people who hurt me is because they know me and know my heart and love me.  I am not sorry these people love me.  I wouldn't change them or replace them for anything.  But right now, I'm just frustrated.

I think there's a fine line to walk in how you love people, especially as Christians.  I know, for me, there have been times that my love for people in my life has gotten me so angry at the people who hurt them.  For example, when I watched Matt break up and get back together with Simone over and over again, I just wanted to smack him and tell him what an idiot he was being!  But I didn't.  I didn't because I love him, and I respect him enough to believe that he knows what is best for him to do, especially when it comes to people I don't know.

Protectiveness is great.  Anyone who knows me knows that I will do absolutely anything to protect the people in my life.  But does the protectiveness have the same effect when you tell the other person that they're weak, or stupid, or naive, if they don't handle the situation the way you would?  I know that right now, it just hurts and frustrates me.  When you don't love people with grace, that love tends to come out as judgment.  Which sort of defeats the purpose of love in the first place.

Since I'm struggling so much to write this, I'm going to steal some words from my dear friend, JD.

"We all have an influence of sort, in varying degrees....would it have 'helped' or 'hindered' if I had been critical, condescending and abrasive the whole time?  If I didn't agree with something, I gently pointed to it and encouraged the things that were as they should be -- all while giving you grace because I saw the whole picture, and knew in my heart and spirit the work God was doing and knew He would finish it and that it would come in His time -- that's how a friend loves.  Period.  In doing that, we "love each other well/healed/whole" -- and it works!"

She and I...we know how to love each other with grace.  There have been PLENTY of times that we've disagreed on something, but when we brought those things to the other's attention, we didn't write emails or chat messages in a fury of anger or passion or emotion.  We thought how to best word what we wanted to say without causing unnecessary hurt.  Not once has she ever tried to berate me into agreeing with her, despite the fact that she has many years of experience and wisdom on me.  So I know this is possible.

The question is, are we willing to put in the time to let God mold our hearts to love everyone that way?  JD and I definitely have a special relationship, but I know that we can love everyone like this if we try.  If you are like me and would go to the ends of the earth to protect the people you love, that's great.  Please don't change.  Everyone needs someone that will stand up for them.  But next time one of those people decides to do something or go back to someone that you feel is a big mistake, I don't care if you feel it in your heart, bones, and soul, please try to love them with grace.  

Love them the way that God loves us, the kind of love that allows for free will to make mistakes on your own and learn from them for the next time.  Love them and support them, and if you turn out to be right, show them that you'll be there to help pick up the pieces of their mess.  Love doesn't include a guilt trip.  Love doesn't including name-calling.  There is a reason that 1 Corinthians 13:4 starts with "Love is patient."  Be patient enough that you love them through it.  Be patient and have love that is steadfast to the point that you love them enough to let them make their own mistakes.  If they're anything like me, that's the only way they'll learn, not by listening to you demean them for doing something you wouldn't do.

At the end of the day, you don't know that you're right about a situation any more than they know that you're wrong.  And love, real love, doesn't have conditions attached to it, conditions based on agreement, or who's right and who's wrong.  Because as 1 Corinthians 13 says a little bit after the "love is patient", 

[Love] always perseveres. Love never fails.

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