Saturday, March 05, 2011

Challenged to Love

We went to friends' house for dinner this evening with all my family. My brother & his wife are in town this weekend- and that's been fun. We were able to get out just the four of us. We had lunch & ran around town while my mom & dad kept the girls. It was nice to hang out like that, it's not often (never, really) that it happens!

On the way home Dustin and I got into a conversation-not long, not in too much depth, but still a good conversation. We were talking about this couple the Lord has placed in our lives, and how God has drastically changed his heart toward the husband.
He said to me: "You know, he still drives me crazy, but the Lord has really given me a love for him... I legitimately consider him a friend." I just thought that was amazing, and told him so. We really give credit completely to God, and how He has the power to change our hearts. I told Dustin how I remember two years ago, honestly, he couldn't stand him. He's just one of those guys that everything about him rubbed Dustin the wrong way... and me too. Same with his wife. Dustin brought that up, saying "Now, (his wife), I'm not so sure of... You know, I don't really know her."
I admitted to how I still struggle with both of them, really. I know God places people in our lives that our difficult to love for a reason. To make us more like him... Because I know I'm difficult to love!! But I just see my husband's heart, how the Lord has changed it completely, and it truly challenges me. It caused me to be honest with myself and him as I said, "You know, the reason I have a hard time with (her) is because she just so different... just kind of weird, and she's just so immature." Saying it out loud was almost embarrassing- even though only Dustin was listening. Before I had a chance to say anything else, he cut in:
"I know it's hard to enter into a relationship knowing you're not going to get anything out of it... at least for a long time. It really challenges our selfishness."
Wow. Praise the Lord I have a husband who oh so gently, but confidently, points out my sin to me. Even though he told me later, he wasn't saying that directed at me, but to himself. I didn't say much, if anything, after that and was pretty quiet the rest of the way home thinking about things.

Do I really only pursue relationships with people when I think I will get something out of it? Even if my motives are good-- I see someone who may be further along than me spiritually, and I want glean from them. Or another mom who has kids older than mine, and I think I can learn things from her. Or someone I notice I have a lot in common with, and I think we'll have a good time together. These are good things.
But when someone is "hard to love"? I know I have absolutely nothing in common with them. They are seemingly less mature than I am. They have a different sense of humor, or different parenting ideas, or they're at a different place spiritually... Do I always shy away because this relationship doesn't seem to have much, if anything, to offer me?
If I'm being honest with myself. With the Lord. With you.... Yes. I do.
How unlike my Savior?!?!

So when I went to bed tonight (or last night, it's 4 in the am right now & I am wide awake), I was talking to Dustin, then praying as I was falling asleep, that I just don't know what this means. What do I do with this conviction? Where do I go from here? What does it look like to love someone or pursue relationship with those who seemingly "don't have anything to offer" me?
I guess -one of the things- I fear about befriending certain people is that they'll end up being "that person" who is calling/ texting you constantly, stop by unannounced, or just seem to not have a comprehension of boundaries... I don't know if that makes sense to some people, or if any of you have ever experienced someone like that... I have in the past. I told Dustin I'm afraid of turning into someone who just can't say "no". He understood, then gently reminded me, "But honey, your problem right now is that you can't say yes." ::sigh:: Then he went on about how sweet the Lord is to pursue me. How He loves me just way too much to leave me like I am... in sin.
.......Don't I just have the greatest husband?

So I asked the Lord to show me what all this looks like in His Word. Then when I woke up in the middle of the night, unable to fall back asleep, I came out here in the living room... and He showed me.

"If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful."
Luke 6:27-36

I know that the context here when Jesus is talking about lending, expecting nothing in return is not referring to relationships, but I still find it appropriate in this case. I mean, He is also speaking about love. I think back to before I knew Christ and then to now, and see this is an area of my life that has remained unchanged. This is definitely an area where I do not look like Christ. Love. I do not love well. And isn't it the greatest commandment? Oh Father, forgive me.
My footnote says: Reciprocity is insufficient, because even sinners practice reciprocity. And "you will be sons" does not mean "you will become sons" but "you will demonstrate that you are sons" by imitating God's care and compassion even for those who are evil.

So to answer my own question: What does it look like to love someone or pursue relationship with those who seemingly "don't have anything to offer" me? ...It looks like Jesus.
If I am only loving those who love me, who offer me something, how does that at all resemble my Father in Heaven- Who loves me & gave Himself for me when I had & still have absolutely nothing to offer Him! It doesn't.
And I say I have these "fears"... but they are really just excuses, let's be honest. If I had any legitimate fears I only need to be reminded that "There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear" 1 John 4:18.

So here I am. Praying God will please mold my heart to look like His, praying He will enable me to love. He has shown me what He commands, now I'm waiting upon Him to give me to the ability to do what He commands...

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