Have you ever known a person that was hard to love? I have. Quite a few, in fact.
There was the lady in front of me at the grocery store the other day. She was mad about everything. She complained about the selection of breakfast cereals, the speed of the cashier, and the smell at the store. I was listening in with halfhearted attention when she turned and snapped at my son who was just trying to unload the cart. I did not feel love toward her. There were the nosy church ladies who hounded me as a young pastor’s wife. They shared their opinions about my marriage, my home, my clothes, and eventually my children. I shoved my responses deep down inside, but I did not feel love toward them. There was the neighbor, always watchful, who glared over the fence at my children to make sure they didn’t touch his grass or his fence or his flowers. I felt miserable and small when he was around. I tried to make peace, but I did not feel love.
This is the month of all things love. We are talking and thinking and anticipating love. We hope for romance, and at the very least, we envision cute holiday parties filled with sugar, construction paper hearts, and happy children. Movies, books, and songs will fill us with expectations of love, and we will even believe that love will happen naturally. Before we fill with disappointment about the love we feel for others and the love we are receiving from others, let’s ask ourselves first what love is all about.
“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18 niv). Wait! That’s not about love! Or is it?
When I listed the people who were hard to love, I forgot to mention a few.
- The woman who snapped at her kids at the park and embarrassed them in front of their friends.
- The mom who lost her temper over the noise level in the backseat of the car.
- The person who judged the neighbor, the church ladies, and the lady at the grocery store.
Those people are all me, and I am pretty hard to love sometimes too.
When I list my failings, I know the backstory. I give myself a little grace about the yelling, the snapping, the lost temper, and even the judgment. I want you to also. I want you to see that much more was going on below the surface than the unpleasant action I committed.
Love is living at peace with everyone to the best of your
ability. Peacefulness is not
just tolerance, it is understanding. When someone greets you this
month with prickliness, unkindness, or carelessness, try understanding first.
Ask yourself, what is
really going on here?
Be curious about those around you and give grace whenever possible. Don’t just tolerate others and call it love while walking away with seeds of resentment in your heart. Try to understand, try to bring peace, try to live in a way that shows love. When you do walk away from those who are hard to love, you may feel good or you may not. Love yourself enough to be understanding of yourself. Love yourself enough to walk away in peace.
Lord, I pray for an open heart today. Please help me to see others with fresh eyes. I pray that you show me how to live at peace to the best of my ability with all around me.