Hard to Love
It's a popular sermon, blog, and book topic. "How to love difficult people." I think I've even seen a popular motivational speaker periscoping about it recently. I never realized this before, but when I would hear a message like this I always--as I imagine most of us do--brought to mind the people in my life who were difficult. I never once considered that I was one of THOSE.
The Difficult People
One day, someone labeled me with something that really hurt because it was true, I believed. "Hard to Love". From that moment on, I began to realize that I was the people the sermons and blog posts were about. I'm difficult people. Difficult to love, like, work with, live with, be around. People need lessons to deal with me. Books have been written about how to love me. As opposed to the average person, it takes a concerted effort to love me. I came to the conclusion that it would be better for everyone--certainly a lot less work--if I didn't leave the house. Save everyone the trouble. Really.
In my more mature moments, of course I know this is a lie. I'm worthy of love because Jesus says I am. But his love and people's love are two different things, aren't they?
A dear friend recently confessed that this very same label had been spoken to her. Someone very close to her said she was "Hard to Love". I found that bewildering and ridiculous even. You see because to me, she is so very easy to love.
I've had multiple love lessons of late. Some through experience, some through study and listening. The one I can't shake is this:
Love is a calculated risk.
It's not a calculated risk for some. It's not risky to love some people and a home run for others. It's hard. Always. Love is a challenging undertaking. Love requires sacrifice. Pain is inevitable. Love is not a feeling but a choice. A choice to risk the pain and the unknown for a great return. A friend and a lover. There's no greater payout.
So what of my friend? It still hurts to be labeled. And what of my own labels? Should I blow that off, ignore it, say that person is the one with the problem? I've certainly known those who refuse to look inward. "Take me as I am or leave me alone." I would definitely end up alone if I took that stance. But I have decided this: to some, I am hard to love. And that's ok. Is that my fault or theirs? I say neither. I am human and flawed, and for whatever reason, that person did the calculations and decided the risk was too high. My friend, as well, is human and making attempts to grow and mature. Is everyone going to be willing to risk loving her? No. It's my choice to take that risk. It's the choice of others to walk away.
The thing to remember is that we all need to be loved. And we are ALL hard to love. God himself has held back from just taking us all out time and time again. And this realization gives me a wonder and an awe that I didn't have previously. The gift that our Creator gives is first and foremost, love. He forgives, again and again. He waits and waits for us to trust Him. And in the mean time, he sends good gifts our way. The ultimate gift being himself: His presence, his teaching, his shed blood, and his preparation for our time to join him in our heavenly home.
The God of the universe calculated the risk and decided we were worth it.
His life was worth it. Lowering his status to human was worth it. For me. To make sure I was loved. Was it hard? That would be an understatement of epic proportions. We will never know how hard it was and continues to be for the God of the Universe to love us. And He will never stop. You can count on it.
"Nothing can separate us from the love of God." Romans 8:38