For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.
    So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, what is unseen is eternal.
    ~2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Monday, December 8, 2014

How to Love Unlovable and Unlikable People (Part 2)

Love . . . Just Do It!

We can't force someone to love us, so why do we think we can force ourselves to love others?

For me it was my mother-in-law (MIL). She passed away a few years ago. Maybe it's not your MIL whom you struggle to love. Maybe it's your sexist boss, liberal wacko fem-nazi neighbor, pious church lady, uber-controlling pastor, bath-avoiding co-worker, unsaved husband, whiney child(ren), Cousin Eddie, stupid parent(s), snide ex-partner, etc etc etc. 

We all have someone in our lives who drives us insane. Loving people we like is easy. Loving people we don't like--who annoy us, who hurt or abuse us--is near impossible.

You don't have to like ___; you just have to love her/him.

We've all heard that. We've probably even said it. But I think it's a platitude that has no foundation in real life. (Ever known a platitude to change an attitude?) 

As long as you despise (dislike . . . can't stand) ______, you'll never be able to truly love him/her.

In his book BLUE LIKE JAZZ, Donald Miller expressed it this way:

"The problem with Christian community was that we had ethics, we had rules and laws and principles to judge each other against. There was love in the Christian community, but it was a conditional love. Sure, we called it unconditional, but it wasn't . . . . 

If [people] were bad and rich, they were called evil. If they were bad and poor, they were charity. Christianity was always right; we were always looking down on everybody else. The problem with Christian community is that we think of love as a commodity . . . . 

The church used love like money. With love, we withheld affirmation from the people who did not agree with us, but we lavishly financed the ones who did."

When I read that, I realized I was withholding love for my MIL in hopes she'd become who I wanted her to be--in other words, to become worthy of my love. My love for her was conditional. If she made me happy, I loved her. If she didn't, I withheld. 

God's love isn't conditional. 

God has never withheld His love from me to teach me a lesson or to make me become who He wanted me to be. I've always considering my flaws--while annoying in others--to be adorable in myself, but at that moment of truth of realizing how conditional my love was, I knew exactly how Job felt when he said, "I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You. Therefore I abhor myself and repent in dust and ashes."

My MIL didn't need to change. I did. Only through repentance did I finally feel free to love and I realized what an amazing woman my MIL was, despite our differences. 

Relationships, as Miller wrote, are pretty simple: 

Nobody will listen to you unless they sense that you like them. 

Key words there are UNLESS THEY SENSE. You can say you like them, but if they don't sense acceptance from you, your words are clanging brass.

Your thoughts?


  1. Nobody will listen to you unless they sense that you like them. I love this line. Such truth. Thanks for a post that hits home. I tend to make my love conditional as well--if they apologize I will love them, if they treat me good--I will love them.