In the last day or so, I have been thinking a lot about the people in my life that are "hard to love." (I hope you are not sitting there thinking, "Oh, that's me. I'm hard for her to love me." If you are, then please talk to me!) Each of these people that I struggle to love, I struggle to love for a different reason--some I feel that I have been crossed by, some grate on my nerves, some I simply don't understand. I wish that it was easy for me to love these people. I wish that they had never hurt me or that they didn't do the things they do that drive me crazy. I wish I could look at them and first see someone created by our God and someone who Jesus died to save--someone as torn and broken and ugly as I am, someone that ultimate grace and ultimate love is freely offered to. But I confess that I first see the irritating things that make me sometimes annoyed at their vary existence.
What irritates me even more is that as much as I am annoyed and frustrated by these people, Jesus loves them a hundred times more. I can't comprehend how He could possibly love someone that irks me so much. But He loves them all the same and He died for them as much as He died for me.
So what do you do with that? How do I begin to love them like God loves them? How do I let go and learn to love them--yes, even though they are hard to love and sometimes, it seems, impossible to love?
I guess the truth is that if love truly is a verb and verbs are actions that require thought and choice to make that action, then love must be a choice as well as a verb. That must mean that I--who have control of my actions, who can choose to be reactive or proactive towards people--can choose to love them. I can choose to let go of the things that vex me. I can choose to not let the injuries that they may cause, change who I am or how I see them--as a child of God. I guess that's what Jesus did when He prayed, Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.
So maybe as I choose to become more Christ-like, as I choose to allow the Spirit to work on me, as I choose to learn and grow, then I learn how to choose to love them despite it all. Maybe as I work on me, then they become easier to love simply because I am becoming one with Christ. I can't change them, I can only change me and how I respond to them and how I see them.
Father, give me the courage to change who I am. Give me the courage to be like-minded with Christ. Give me the courage to learn how to love those who it is hard for me to love. Teach me how easy it is to love them because I am growing and walking with You. Father, grow me that I might love them. Father, forgive me for not loving them. Forgive me for my lack of willingness to learn to love them. Forgive me for my selfishness. Humble me before You, Lord, I want to love You and I want to love Your people. Amen.