Lately, I've been thinking a lot about love. Not mushy, romantic love, but God's love and loving others. I could give you the train of thought that brought me to ponder this, but because I'm convinced I have ADD, it would take 6 paragraphs to outline my train of thought and who really has time for that?
I tend to use the word love very freely. My hubby jokes that I "love" everything... and I sorta do. I am somewhat over-zealous about a lot of things; an extremist, one might say. Usually I really, really like something or totally dislike it. I am not much of a gray area kind of gal. Although I'm quick to say "I love pink" or "I love this pen", I really don't take love lightly.
God told us to love one another. Growing up as a preacher's kid, I heard this scripture many times in my life but I don't know that I ever embraced it like I have in the last few months. After some thought, I decided that I was going to try to actively love and show love to those around me, even when I don't want to.
This is harder than one might think.
Some people are weird.
Some people are annoying.
Some people are jerks.
And some are just idiots that you want to smack.
A lot of us wouldn't say this out loud, but you know you've met them, been related to them or worked with them. Loving these folks isn't easy or simple. It takes effort. But you know what? Choosing to do so changes you and them.
I have an acquaintance that fits into one of the above categories. This lady is one of the most kind and giving people you could ever meet. She would give you the shirt off her back and all her money if you even hinted you were in need. She's practically a saint in a lot of ways. However...She's also pretty neurotic and very, very needy. Upon first meeting her, it's obvious that she's a little "too much". From my observation, it appears that most people just tolerate her but don't actually form a relationship or care about her. I used to feel the same way. Then, something happened.
I decided to change my mind. I decided to see her for what was underneath, not for the surface things or the weird quirks. That's when I really began to see her. When I did, I saw someone who has faced several tragedies and traumas in her life. I saw someone who has recently lost several people she loved very much, suffered an abusive home life growing up and who has such low self-esteem that she can't believe anyone would love her or even tolerate her. What I saw broke my heart.
We've all been through crap. At one point or another, we've all made a bad decision. We've all done stupid things or run our mouth when we should really shut up. We've all judged others and been critical. On the inside, we're all very much the same.
It's been a few months since I decided to try and love this person. You know what? She's still annoying. Sometimes, I still just want to go away instead of have a conversation with her. BUT... I see her totally differently now. She doesn't have to be just like me to be worthy of love. She doesn't have to look the way I want or act the way I want. She is God's precious creation and I choose to love her for who she is, not what I think she should be.
I don't think love means we must become besties with everyone we meet. I don't think we have to invite them all over for Christmas or even spend a ton of time together. Love can be a smile or a hug. Love can be a "Good Morning" or even a simple, kind gesture. I've also learned through this that one of the greatest ways to show love is to simply listen... Even if you don't feel like it.
And even though it's hard, it's totally worth it.