It’s so hard to love when you’ve just been stung. But isn’t that exactly what love is? Gina explores how we can love when it’s difficult.
She smiles as she throws an underhanded insult your way, laughing it off. But the words go deep, prickling your pride, sparking your anger. Your lips purse, nostrils flare.
It’s so hard to love when you’ve just been stung. But isn’t that what love is? Isn’t that what Jesus asks us to do when he says: ‘love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you’ (Matthew 5:43)?
There’s a better way to react, Jesus says, than lashing out or icy silence.
Loving others in all circumstances
There have been moments where my body burns for retaliation, where even the idea of eye-contact feels impossible.
Personally, it’s sometimes felt easier to start flying around the room. But it’s in those exact moments that God wants love. And not just a twitch of your lips to their scowl. He wants a genuine seeking of someone else’s good (1 Corinthians 13:5), a bearing with the unbearable other (Ephesians 4:2), constant forgiveness (Colossians 3:13).
And he wants it for the person who’s hurting you.
Because that’s what love actually is, that’s how he defined it when he came to earth. We mocked, belittled, and beat Jesus. We shoved nails through his wrists while he asked God to forgive us, we shouted abuse while he died instead of us.
And he wants us to do the same so that we introduce him to others; we show the world what He looks like.
But how can I love when it’s difficult?
Okay fine. I can sigh, grit my teeth and reign in those sharp words. But it’s such a slog. Does loving your enemies always have to be a force of willpower? No. I think, with the Holy Spirit’s help, it doesn’t.
I think there’s something we can know that will sometimes make it easier and even a privilege to give love in return for pain: when we know God’s love for us.
When God’s love pours, gushes, overflows into your open heart. When your inner eyes are prised open, and your whole being feels the warmth of that eternal love – when you’re stunned by the acceptance offered to your corrupt-self, the value given to your lowly-self, the prestige held out to your small-self, that’s when you can begin to love properly.
I’ve been loved, you think. Really loved, when I was at my utter worst. How can I not love others at theirs?