Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Loving the Unlovable

God has his reasons for the people he places in our lives. Some of them lead us spiritually, hold us accountable in love, encourage us, build us up, and help us grow in our faith and relationship with the Lord. They are dependable, reliable, unselfish & we can trust that they will never mistreat or hurt us. They value us and love us through their words and actions. 

They are easy to love.

But God doesn't call us to love only the lovable. HE IS LOVE. We are called by Christ to genuinely love everyone...selflessly and without ceasing.  Try swallowing that truth.  Hurts going down doesn't it?

I mean...I'm a human, you're a human. We are broken and we are sinful by nature. And from our fragile perspectives it's hard to see how we could possibly muster the strength to love the unlovable ones. The selfish, insensitive and careless ones. The ones who are reckless in the way they treat themselves and others. It could be someone who unknowingly (or sometimes even purposefully) hurts us. These can be people we cross paths with for brief periods of time or they could be our coworkers, or even family members...especially family members.  Our hearts are barely capable of scraping together enough love to cover the minor flaws of people we know...and God's telling me I need to purely and genuinely love these unlovable people? Yep. Because love covers a multitude of sins. And really, what are you gaining or learning from only loving the easy ones? 

The MSG translation of Matthew 5:46-47 says "if all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? ...Any run of the mill sinner does that." 

Um, ouch.  Hashtag preach. 

Every time I've grown spiritually it has been because of a challenge or difficult situation. I can honestly say a perfectly picturesque situation has rarely resulted in spiritual growth for me. Except for that time I was pregnant. That's a pure miracle and it's hard not to have the joy of the Lord flowing through your veins while experiencing such a gift. That's simply in a league all on its own.

And I'll be the first to say that I'm not capable of wholly & completely loving an unlovable with just this heart of mine.

But God can do anything. And if we let his love flow through us, relying completely on HIS strength and the power of the Holy Spirit...we can love any and every one.  Especially the unlovable ones.

Because listen to me...

Are you listening?

EVERYONE is worthy of love.

And who is going to step up and give it to them if I don't? If YOU don't? We are the light of the world, the salt of the earth. Don't lose your saltiness because it's easier to make up excuses not to love someone than it is to pray for patience and a heart full of compassion for them. By the way...that praying for patience thing will need a whole post of its own because that is noooo joke.

And the more we allow ourselves to experience Christ's power through us, the easier it becomes to channel that love and live a life that points to his grace, mercy & love.

We can all do this!  Here are 7 ways we can learn to love the hard-to-love people in our lives...

1. Realize we are all sinners, and humble ourselves to the point of accepting that we might also be a little unlovable at times. I know that's hard to believe...but it's true. And accepting it gives you a renewed outlook on these so called "unlovables" in your life. I don't even want to reflect on the many times I've let my God down...but he loves me anyway. Love them anyway.

2. Pray for God's intervention in our hearts. Once I took a big bite out of that humble pie served in #1, I went ahead and finished it off by admitting I cannot do this without surrendering all of it to the only one capable of this kind of love.  Giving something completely to God is a huge step because we have to die-to-self, and human nature does not make that easy... but it's completely necessary to allow God to work through us.

3. Be patient. Patience is a dangerous thing to pray for. I started praying that prayer in January of 2014 and it ended up being the most trying year of my life. I'm not even kidding. But let me tell you it changed me and my relationship with the Lord completely and it was worth it to me to get where I am spiritually. If you're tempted to lose patience with someone, reflect on how patient God has been with YOU and try your very best to put that into practice with someone in your life! 

4. Try to understand them. You might not know their journey, and there are many things that could've happened to them along the way and calloused their hard-to-love hearts. Instead of judging and jumping to conclusions, understand that hurting people hurt people. And try to help them see through your love for them that God can restore anything. He can polish every scar and use it for his glory.

5. Forgive them. Even if they don't ask for it, even if they don't deserve it. For whatever they did to become so unlovable to you. True forgiveness frees you from the chains that bind you to bitterness and resentment. Forgiveness promotes healing and a healed heart can easily love a broken person through Christ. 

6. Serve them. Oh it's gonna be hard. But the best way to show love is through service. Sincerely serving someone in love can soften even the hardest heart. Do something nice for someone who feels unworthy, or isn't expecting it. You will both be blessed.

7. Demonstrate God's love and grace through the way YOU live your life. It's hard for someone to argue with God's power when they see it in action through you.  Practice what you preach and prove God's love with your life.


Crystal Henderson said...

I absolutely love this, Kelsey! I can relate so well to having to forgive someone who has hurt you.. someone that should love you unconditonally and never want to hurt you. Last year was a very trying year for me as well and I was able to grow so much spiritually and my relationship with the person who had hurt me has gotten new life and is repaired. Praise God! :)

Kelsey Almond said...

Thank you for sharing, Crystal. It's amazing how God works!!! :)

Donna Salberg said...

I love this Kelsey! This is right on point! Thanks for posting this