Lately I have been having quite the battle against misanthropic cynicism. People have frustrated me repeatedly and I’ve been trying not to let it get to me. I’ve been trying desperately sometimes not to be disgusted with humanity.
The last few months God has been convicting me on loving people instead of loving victory in an argument. It was difficult for me, but He really began to work in me. I began to feel like His love was just filling me to the point of bursting. His love began to motivate me to do things I normally wouldn’t do. Simple things, be it talking to strangers, and praying for people in public, or more complicated things, like opening up and making myself vulnerable to people, showing them who I really am.
This openness and vulnerability cost me dearly. I had imagined that if I trusted completely that people would never hurt me. I was sorely mistaken. The past few months I’ve felt a strange mixture of abounding love, disheartenment, and let down. I will tell you, I nearly allowed the let down to rob me of the joy of trusting and loving people.
Yet God always proves faithful. Through all the disappointments He revealed to me some things about love that I always thought I knew. He reminded me of two aspects of 1 Corinthians 13: love is not self-seeking and love endures all things. I had not exactly been practicing these. At least I had not been practicing them as much as I should have been.
He taught me that I cannot go into a friendship with selfish intentions. I like being liked and I had let that effect how I would go about friendship. Somewhere along the line I had begun to lose sight of loving people for who they are and started trying to love people just because I wanted to be a loving person and liked because of it.
It occured to me, that is not how Jesus loves. He doesn’t love us for the hope of getting something from us, He just loves because that is Who He is. He did not seek His own will, but that of the Father (“Yet not My will, but Thine be done.”). In the same way, that is how we should love: not hoping to gain something from other people, not even admiration, but loving them for their sake and to carry out the will of the Father.
Philippians 2 talks about how Jesus loved by not being self-seeking. It says He took “the very nature of a servant.” The Almighty God became a servant. That thought should be enough to keep us in perpetual awe. I was reminded of that profound truth one day when I looked up the meaning of a word I use very frequently. ‘Ciao’ is just a simple Italian farewell. I often use it without really thinking about it. But when I looked up the actual meaning I was blown away. It literally means: “I am your slave.”
We are called to be the servants of other people. To consider them better than ourselves (Phil. 2). People sin, mess up, hurt others, etc., yet we are still to serve them anyway. I need to remind myself of that frequently. When a friend hurts me, when some one cuts me off on the highway, when my professor insults me. I constantly need to remember: “Ciao. Jesus loves you; therefore I love you. Jesus was a servant; therefore I am a servant. Ciao.”
Interestingly, that perspective helps me with the second part. When I am remembering that I am their servant, not my own, it helps me to “endure all things.” Loving like Jesus is difficult, but by His Spirit it is possible. I have to remember that I love people because He loved me. He chose me and bought me and loved me while I was unlovable. He did that for them as well. Now out of gratitude I should love those that He loves.
I have found that the same love He had instilled in me remains though it is being suplimented with endurance. I’ve discovered that love is more than affection; love is also determination. After I was hurt by some one I had opened up to I found a new response that I can only attribute to God’s work in my heart. The response was: “I am determined to love you. You can hurt me. You can reject me. You can push me away. But I will still love you. Jesus loves you, Jesus will never stop loving you; therefore I love you, I will never stop loving you.”
I was so disappointed by being hurt by those I tried to love that I had decided not to trust people anymore. But then I was smitten with the astounding truth that God didn’t want me to trust people in the first place, but to trust Him instead. I found that when I trusted God for my affirmation, for my acceptance, for my love, I did not need it from people. I also found that when I trusted God, I trusted God’s work in people. I found that when I trusted God, He taught me how to love people.
Out of trusting God I have learned to love and trust people. To love regardless of what they have done or what they will do. To love them with determination. To love them as a bond-servant, some one who willingly chooses to continue being a slave after being set free, loves his master. Well, that’s all I have to say right now. That is what God has been doing in my heart. So I’ll end this blog here. I hope you enjoyed my heart-felt ramblings and my pictures (even though I have no idea what the boats had to do with anything) and I hope it made sense to you.