Unfortunately for some of us, no. Well, honestly, I guess unfortunately for all of us because we all have those people who have hurt us deeply and we just wish we could be done with them.
We are called to love everyone. However, we are also called to be wise. So what does wise love look like?
Well, for starters, loving someone does not mean condone their behavior. It also does not mean putting yourself in danger. I’ve read it this way, “Don’t light yourself on fire to keep someone else warm.”
When it comes to loving difficult people, I almost think the word love should be interchangeable with forgiveness. More than likely, the reason you are struggling to “love” someone is because the relationship is damaged and probably by them. Or him. Or her. Maybe taking a look at what forgiveness isn’t will help you begin the process to forgive and then leave room for love.
So here’s what forgiveness isn’t:
- Forgiveness isn’t forgetting.
- It’s not pretending.
- It’s not always restoring the relationship.
- It’s not forcing yourself to be okay.
Here’s what forgiveness is:
- It’s remembering the Gospel and all that Jesus has forgiven you for.
- It’s naming what the person (or persons) did to hurt you.
- It’s recognizing the pain.
- It’s choosing to accept that whatever the person did or stole from you (a marriage, a childhood, a season of life) can never be undone. That sounds so cold…but what’s done is done.
- It’s choosing to release the debt the person owes you and refusing to replay the scenario over and over again.
- It’s trusting Jesus that He WILL avenge your situation and make all things right…someday.
- It’s moving forward with your life instead of having someone or something hold you hostage.
Chip Ingram says that we forgive, then keep forgiving, until someone is forgiven. So we make the initial choice to say that someone will not be able to repay what they took from us (emotionally, physically, psychologically, spiritually) and that we will not make them pay for it. Then we keep reminding ourselves of the Gospel and the initial decision we made. Until one day, that person’s name and/or presence doesn’t make us want to throw up anymore.
It is a process. But if you are willing to begin this process, I promise you will experience a freedom you have never before.