Sometimes being or acting loving with the one in front of you is easy. Sometimes it is really hard.
Recently, I was surprised to find myself in this kind of relationship, once again. I discovered part of the problem was in me and my flow of thought and the other part of the problem was completely outside of me.
So I asked; what do I do? Do I walk away? Do I stay and try to fix the issue, changing my behavior in order to be the “loving presence of Jesus.” My old way of living out my faith was to take responsibility for the problem and fix it. Since I have begun to understand God and relationship differently, I wondered if there was an alternative.
This situation brought my two very different ways of navigating life together. The first was this new way of experiencing and growing in my understanding of God’s deeply personal and intimate love. The other was the exposure of a deeply held core belief of my very existence being the problem. This old way of understanding meant I had to fix the relational dynamics in order to be okay.
This relationship with this person created a space for me that felt much like shifting sand. When I met them I didn’t know who I would meet in conversation: kindness, aloofness, or anger. My own inability to control the outcome of these relational dynamics brought me back to memories of other past abusive relationships.
In order to discover God’s view, I took what I was feeling to prayer. Through this, I realized a lie about myself I had accepted as truth. I also realized the other person was doing the best they could do within their own immense pain.
So the question remains, how do you love the one in front of you, especially when they are hard to love? It isn’t an easy question and I would suppose one that has as many answers as there are potential scenarios.
It seems to me, loving requires presence. This doesn’t necessarily mean to be physically present with the individual but to be in a place where you are present with God and with yourself. This becomes a place where you know your own value and belovedness in the eyes of the One who created you. It is an invitation to be true to who God has created you to be, knowing the value of your very existence. In knowing that core truth, you are invited to walk it out with yourself, with God, and with all those around you. Your true identity is not tied to performance, achievements, perceptions, either yours or another’s, but is defined in and through God’s loving gaze.
From this grounded place of resting in God’s embrace and gaze, the shifting sand in the dynamics around you may still be difficult and feel like chaos. However, the firm foundation created by God’s view of your innermost self is a place of peace in the storm.
This is a place where you can stop fighting to be seen, heard, or believed in; these desires are already met. You are truly loved at your very core. As we realize these statements as truth in our very being, space opens from our own warring within. Yes, this warring within is a place inside our own hearts and minds, a place of judgment. That internal conversation where you rationalize your own ability to be “right” in a particular conversation or relationship. This same conversation may even be shared with those close to you to help justify your own actions or reactions. We tend to reinforce these stories in ourselves as we continue to tell them.
When this internal conversation becomes silent and we rest in the knowledge of ourselves being truly loved, we can share that newly opened space with the one in front of us. Then we can see them, hear them, believe that they are doing the best they can do. We begin to realize their actions or reactions really do not define us.
With this open space of holding and loving, it becomes possible to communicate our own needs and desires in the relationship toward a healthier place. Sometimes that healthier place is to part ways and sometimes it isn’t. Regardless, holding ourselves and others with love allows us to navigate life without building up resentment or bitterness to further block the flow of love within our own hearts.
This is a means to navigate life without regrets and to move freely in loving ourselves, God, and all those around us. We are all incredibly capable of great good and great evil. As we remember this tension within ourselves and others, we can offer grace to those who hurt or disappoint us, including ourselves. It is important to know and allow ourselves the grace of doing this so very imperfectly.
This journey isn’t easy and it doesn’t feel intuitive. Yet as complicated as it seems to be, it comes down to walking each step with a God whose promise is a yoke that is easy. It seems the hard part is letting go of our own agenda, our own barriers of self-protection, our own desire to be “right.” Following our own egotism is what makes it difficult, and it is difficult, but we are only invited to walk this journey, this dance, one day at a time with grace for ourselves and those in our midst.
Lord, create in us a freedom that allows us to be places of such grace…
Hello, I'm Kathi Gatlin. Thanks for stopping by!