Posted on Sunday, April 25, 2010 in Uncategorized
Back in January my friend Tim Geoffrion wrote an insightful post entitled “When Loving Gets Tough.”
“When conflicts arise or we have been hurt, or when others really irritate or offend us, it can be really tough to love them…For any number of reasons, our intention or attempts to love others can fall short.”
We want to love. We want to act lovingly. It’s our plan. We think loving thoughts. We would tell other friends or family members that we love ___, but when the conflicts arise it does not look very loving.
“In spite of our best intentions, sometimes, we don’t know what to do differently. Or, if we do know, we may feel that it’s just too hard or exhausting to keep trying.”
If you’re like me, that says it all. Sometimes love can be so hard.
Here are several strategies that you and I can choose to practice that might make a real difference:
1. Accept responsibility for your thoughts and actions. Don’t undo your efforts to love someone by letting yourself explode or say something nasty. And, if you screw up, fess up!
2. Accept that you’re powerlessness to change people. Even if you could change a loved one, it’s not your job. Your role is to love them, to encourage them, and to offer input when appropriate. Ask God for the courage and strength to speak the truth in the midst of conflict, and for compassion to do so patiently and lovingly. (Ephesians 4:15)
Remember that you always have power to choose how you are going to act toward others, regardless of their actions toward you. You may not have power to feel love or even to control your reactions as well as you would like. But you can discipline yourself to act kindly to show love in your actions—by being patient, kind, courteous, humble, selfless, forgiving, and encouraging (see 1 Corinthians 13:4-7).
3. Let go of your demands. If you would like to be able to love them unconditionally – at TreeHouse we call that “love without strings” — then let go of your expectations that they respond the way you want them to.
4. If you cannot love the person without strings, be honest about it. Or if you would like more from the relationship, talk with them about your needs and desires.
5. Look in the mirror. “Instead of just trying to change your behavior, seek wisdom into what is going on inside of you that keeps prompting you to act in unloving ways. What needs do you have that are going unmet? How could you get your needs for love, for affection, for friendship met in healthy ways?”
6. Admit that love is work. “By letting God’s love meet your deepest needs, and by following the Holy Spirit’s leading in the ways of love, you will increasingly become part of the solution to a world riddled with unresolved conflict, alienation, and pain. It’s also the only way to truly experience the full life that Christ intends for you.”
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. [Romans 5:8]
Prayer: “Loving and gracious God, thank you for your unconditional love and mercy. Please help me to fully trust in your love for me, to accept your forgiveness, and to be renewed in the deepest part of my being. And lead me in the way of love, especially when it is really hard for me, so that all those around me may sense your love flowing through me.”
Tim Geoffrion regularly writes insightful posts on Spirit-Led Leader. I recommend it highly. If you would like to read his article without my comments or edits again you can find it here.