Categories
recovery

Loving people we dislike

Many of us don’t know the difference between loving and liking one another. Keeping people close that we don’t genuinely like doesn’t work and can wreak havoc in our lives.

We can love everyone spiritually. But liking anyone depends on compatibility and is for select people who, through their actions, have earned our appreciation and company.

When someone treats people (including ourselves) in hurtful ways, we are perfectly able to love them – if we genuinely have a relationship with God. But we will not be able to like them. They don’t deserve us, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

After all, not all company edifies us. We seek good company that we like: peaceful, joyful, loving, forgiving, thoughtful. And, yes, interesting and fun.

Company that makes us feel uncomfortable, judged, hurt, offended, manipulated, insulted or even just bored and disinterested is therefore not likeable. It is a blessing to love these people, but we don’t have to seek their company or force ourselves to like them.

We need to learn to gracefully handle people whose presence doesn’t edify us. They don’t need to be active participants in our lives.

Our calling is to love them. Pray for them. Help them. And wish for their hearts to be transformed so they can enjoy a love that will enable them to treat us as we expect to be treated.

We can bring them back into our lives as friends, family or partners if they demonstrate a change of attitude with actions (not words) for a significant amount of time, so we see consistency.

Remember: We are called to love one another, not to like everyone.

Anything beyond that is self-righteous and will destroy us.

Categories
forgiveness

The joy of forgiveness

How we talk about people who hurt us says a lot about whether or not we have a relationship with the One who made us.

I met a Christian man recently who has been divorced for four years and talks in a resentful and bitter way about his ex-wife. According with him, she had no right before God to divorce him.

It was hard to listen to him. His voice, no matter what I talked about, was full of judgment and condemnation.

What he is missing in his life is not his ex-wife, but the joy of forgiveness. This is a gift that we receive from God when we allow him to make his home in us.

He attends church every Sunday and tried to discredit my faith when I said I wasn’t religious.

Yet no regular attendance to a place or membership to a group will give any of us the divine ability to forgive everyone. It comes from God when we are humble and willing to receive it.

It is only when we forgive everyone, and genuinely love and wish them well, that we experience divine joy.

Once we have tasted it, we always come back for more.

When this joy overflows in our spirit, our voices become an encouragement for others who can’t forgive and, as a result, can’t find peace in their lives.

If you are struggling with bitterness and resentment, pray for the willingness to be filled with love and forgiveness.

And you will joyfully taste peace that exceeds all understanding.