Last year our small group Cornerstone did a 6 week study on the book of John. Love is a consistent theme throughout that book. Most of us are familiar with the following scripture, which is in that book, "I give you a new commandment, that you love one another", John 13:34-35. Sounds easy enough when you read it, but putting it into action in our every day lives, well let's just say, that's not so easy.
If some of you are like me, you struggle with "loving" certain people in your life, whether that be a co-worker, a certain "friend", someone from your church or yes, even a family member. So how do we often handle those that just aren't easy to love? Here are some of the ways I've done so in the past. Avoid them, don't talk to them, ignore/don't acknowledge them when I see them or give them a very disingenuous greeting, talk about them to others, just remove them from your life and here's an oldie but goody, I'll love them when they love me, or when they apologize. Wow, that's really hard to see in print and even harder to admit that at one time or another, I have unfortunately used everyone of those methods.
Lately I've been thinking a lot about loving others, especially because I've been struggling with some relationships in my life. And these aren't just casual friends or occasional acquaintances, these are family members and decades long friends. Maybe you have some of the same struggles in your life. It's hard to love someone when you think they've wronged you, whether real or perceived, or done the same to someone you love. Or maybe they think differently than you, so obviously you're right and they're wrong. Or maybe their solution to a problem is in direct conflict with your solution. Or maybe they're just one of those people that are hard to love. So what do you do? I could say love them anyway, but for many of us, that's just not possible. It's easy to say, but good luck doing it!
I'd like to suggest a much smaller step and possible easier solution. This isn't a cop out, but something to bridge that divide between not loving and eventually loving. I personally am not strong enough in some circumstances and with some people to just love, though I strive to get there some day. That doesn't mean I should just give up on that situation or that person. This takes me back to one of my favorite sayings, "it's better to start small than not at all." Many of you have heard me use this before and I can't think of a better place to institute that quip.
So here's my solution, how about just being kind. Maybe it starts with a genuine greeting the next time you see "that person". Like making eye contact, having positive body language, or even a warm handshake. That's much easier to do, right? It might not sound like much, but go back and review some of the ways I handled these situations. Which has the potential to have a more positive outcome? Now am I saying this will always work? I'd like to think so, but it might not. However, what will it probably do for you and I believe in most instances, for the other person? How about removing our self-righteous attitudes, ridding ourselves of pride, releasing stubbornness and softening our hardened hearts. Now that's good, right? Then the next thing you know, that cordial but well meaning greeting or handshake is now a heartfelt hug and before you know it, you have found a new friend, or rekindled an old friendship. Again I ask, that's good, right? Can it really be something so small, so simple? Can it really be that easy? Yes, I believe it can and it all starts with a little kindness.
Though I still fail at this often, I have got it right a few times as well. And as I have come to see, others have thankfully got it right with me too. And those are stories that I love to share with people, but for now, let me close with this. Let's just try and be more kind to each other every day. And before you know it, guess what might just be peeking around the corner?