From the Heart: Loving That Person I Still Don’t Like
I have to see so-and-so today, and I dread it.
Not because I’m afraid of them. They aren’t in a position to hurt me anymore.
Not because I’m jealous of them. I don’t want anything they have.
I dread seeing them because our interaction always reveals ugliness in me. I don’t ignore them. I don’t say vindictive things. I don’t use body language to make them feel uncomfortable. In fact, I don’t think they even know I still struggle, but I do.
Over time, with God’s help, I have learned how to love them in practical ways for His sake, how to speak and demonstrate grace with sincerity, how to measure out mercy when they exhibit behaviors that bring up dark memories for me, and how to forgive completely, truly believing and acting as if they don’t owe me anything else for what happened.
The thing is, I don’t care about them, not like I should. I see the work God is doing in their life, but I don’t rejoice with them like I do with others. When they suffer, I don’t hurt for them like I’d hurt for someone else. When they fail, I struggle not to feel gratified.
Honestly? If you told me I’d never see them again, I wouldn’t be too sad. Curious, yes. Regretful over what could have been, of course, but not really sad.
See? Ugly. Really ugly. Strong evidence that I’ve got a lot of growing to do, and I don’t like to be reminded.
I may have beaten my body and made it my slave to a certain degree (1 Cor. 9:27), doing the right things by this person so as not to discredit the Gospel outwardly, but I have not allowed God to transform my mind where they are concerned (Rom. 12:2).
If I had, I would feel compassion toward this spiritual sibling who struggles just like I do to keep moving forward in their faith. I would care less about the effects of their behavior on me and more about their behavior’s effect on Jesus’ reputation in the world. I wouldn’t keep congratulating myself for doing the bare minimum in this one relationship when Jesus gave His utmost for us all.
Hard truth? My obedience in this particular relationship has been superficial at best so far. It’s time to get serious about letting God demonstrate what He can do in and through a thoroughly surrendered heart.
It’s time to turn my focus away from what’s temporary—myself, this person, and our mutual experience included—and fix it on the eternal—God, the Gospel, and His eternal purpose (2 Cor. 4:18).
It’s time to recognize anew the Holy Spirit’s authority in my life and give Him jurisdiction not only over my behavior, but over my thoughts as well, allowing Him to take captive any and all that don’t please Him until I only see what He sees when looking upon this imperfect sibling of mine, the very same blood of Jesus that covers my own sin, no less offensive than theirs.
Okay, Lord. I’m ready. Teach me to love deeply, this time from the heart (1 Pet. 1:22).