No Ordinary Love
" I love them. But I don't like them."
I've uttered or thought these words countless times. And every time I have, I meant it! God says I must love my Brothers and Sisters. But that doesn't mean I have to like them. Right? If you said, "Right, TC! You must love them. But you, definitely, don't have to like them." We were on the same page...until recently.
I am an only child and there are times I experience "symptoms" and "side effects" of it. Although some of those symptoms and side effects are positive, there are times when they aren't. For instance, if I encounter a fellow Believer who rubs me the wrong way or "wrongs me", I can quickly erase their entire presence and existence from mine. I can think of several people, even now, that I "used to know". I still love them, but only because God told me that I must. And if I'm being transparent, I don't like them.
I thank God for giving me the opportunity to spend most days alone because it allows me to experience quality, private time with Him. Every day, I make personal confessions of faith and proclamations over my life. During this time, I also ask God to reveal all areas of unconfessed sin in my life and to empty me so that I can be filled with Him. I ask Him to renew my mind, enabling me to clear out all the clutter that I've picked up along the way. I want to be Christlike and there are things I must change. So it comes as no surprise when He highlights and reveals things within me which I need to confess and repent, omit or renew my mind towards. When I am obedient by following His instructions and examples, I am always blessed. It's an awesome process of transformation that happens and every day, I am better because of it.
This week, as I prepared to write my Valentine's Day WHOAment, I was forced to deal with the statement and my thoughts surrounding "I love them, but I don't like them!" The more I thought about it, the louder I heard the Holy Spirit asking me, "How do you act when you love someone, TC?"
"How do you act when you love someone?"
Immediately, I thought about how I act with people I love. With my husband, LT, I am genuinely happy to see him. I physically show him that I love him. I show him respect. I don't gossip to other people about him. When I recognize that there is a "rift" between us, I want to make up. I'm giddy over him. I try to do things that I know will please him and, as a result, he will know that I love him.
I thought about how I act with our daughters, whom I also love dearly. With them, I try to deposit and instill good things. I nurture them. I laugh with them. I cuddle with them. I spend time with them. I correct them when they are wrong. I teach them. Occasionally, I buy them things to show my love.
I thought about how I act towards my mom. My family. My close friends. As I recounted the ways I act with them and how I show them my love, there were three commonalities: I pray for the people I love. I strive to do good towards them. I want the best for them. And most importantly, there are times I don't like their behavior, yet, I still love them.
After answering, the Holy Spirit asked, "How do you act when you love someone you 'don't like', TC?"
"How do you act when you love someone you don't like?"
A few people came to mind and my countenance changed. With them, I don't smile when they enter the room. I find myself talking about their behavior with other people, hoping to get them to see the reason(s) I don't like them. I may walk past them without speaking. I may turn the other way when I see them coming, to avoid interacting. I may choose a seat on the other side of the room so I won't have to sit next to them. These are the ways I treat them, but I love them. Cut me some slack! I don't wish any harm to come upon them...because I love them. Right? :/
Once I saw the exact point the Holy Spirit was unfurling, the more I realize how errant it is to say that you love everyone because that's what God requires of you. First off, if I am only loving someone because God told me I must, how do I know the "amount" of love I have for them is "enough" to meet that requirement? If I am only loving them to "meet the quota", how will I know when the quota is met? Secondly, in my limited capacity, I can say I love someone, but if I don't act like it, am I really loving them? It's all about the motives behind my actions, which the Lord examines. I understand that we may not like the person's actions or behavior and I believe that is different from not liking them.
Believe me when I say that this is a revelation for me! I've been going along all this time thinking that I am showing them love, simply because I don't strangle, physically assault or harm them whenever I see them.
Right now, you may be thinking, "TC. How can I show love to people who have mistreated me? What about those people who I don't get along with? What about those people who don't love/like me? How can I love them? How can I like them?" In my own strength, I don't know how. But with Christ, there is a way.
God is nothing like us. His thoughts are not like ours. His heart is pure; ours are not. In fact, our hearts are one of the most deceitful things. Today's world says that we should "trust our hearts." However, this is the same "heart" that tells us it's ok to show limited love to certain people and justifies us doing so because we don't like them. God has forgiven them and loves them. And if our goal is to be Christlike, we must renew our mind and follow His examples:
1. God doesn't love me more than He loves any of His other children. He pours out the same love to all His children.
2. Even on the cross, Jesus prayed for the people who abused, cursed and mocked Him. He even asked the Father to forgive them.
3. God's love never runs out. There is no limitation on the amount of love He gives to His children.
If you are struggling with the fact that we are to love (and like) all of His children, perhaps it is because your flesh is resistant. Perhaps, you believe that you can't possibly love people who have mistreated you, or rubbed you the wrong way. Well, Friend, I agree. In our own strength, we can't. However, with the Holy Spirit we can change. Let's start there. Repent for allowing your flesh to control your actions. Repent for thinking so highly of yourself and so little of God by choosing to believe that you can limit the love you give to your Brothers and Sisters, based on emotions!
The next step is to pray for them. I mean, sincerely pray for them. Remove yourself from the equation. Pray for their success. Pray for their health. Pray that their relationship with God is in right standing. Pray for their family. When you are praying for them, you take the focus from your emotions.
The next step is to treat them how you want them to treat you. Do not act as if they don't exist. When you see them, say hello. Treat them the same way you treat others. Go out of your way to bless them. Continue to ask the Holy Spirit to reveal ways to show love towards them.
This is a start to loving all our Brothers and Sisters the way God instructs, with no limits. I will allow the Holy Spirit to work and show me other ways and manifest His perfect love in me, for them.
Sidenote: Please do not mishear what I am saying. I am not saying for you to love someone, you need to hang with them or be physically connected to them. I do not believe this is the message the Holy Spirit was conveying. I believe He is saying there should be no limitations on love between Believers.
If you enjoyed reading this WHOAment, you may also like "I [don't] Hate Them!"
I love hearing from you, so let's chat!
* Before reading this WHOAment, what was your understanding of "I love you. But I don't like you"?
* What practical steps can you take to show love towards someone who may not express the same towards you?"
* How do you show people you love them?