"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." (John 15:13)
Sounds great. Really. How about loving your enemies? Family? The in-laws? What about your online contacts, friends and family who may have stayed in their ideological neighborhood while you moved to a new address?
I find that loving people is easy. I have told many people that I love them, and I meant it. And not that rock star "I love you, too" platitude that enlives the audience but makes the knowledgeable want to puke in the aisle, or...in front of the television, on the carpet. And my love for others is spiritual, because there is NO way I could love people I hardly know unless God had pointed my heart and mind towards them.
Please don't feel bad. It's not as if I am lovey to y'all, all the time. I can lose my patience. I can feel the need to leave your presence, just as you enjoy leaving mine.
No man hateth his own flesh...this is so true. But I want you to consider that, if we truly are the Body of Christ, then the Body is one unit. If you poke me in the arm, you poke me. By extension, if we are the Body, you are poking the Body, when you speak against another, or do something against them. So loving works in the same way: we love ourselves...so the reality is we must therefore love each other, since we are the Body of Christ.
This kind of talk drives me up the wall, because it puts the issue right in my face. I can't turn away from the truth, however, that we are all connected, and that if God so loved the world, then it is possible for us to love one another, in Him.
TWI. It means "time without incident". I know that in the midst of all our commenting, liking, and friending, there are friends of friends who don't know us, don't know how we joke, how we talk, how we interact with others, and so there is always the possibility to get hurt by comments made. In these instances, TWI is a great way to establish walls, without severing relationships (hopefully), in order to be respected and to help others learn how to interact with you successfully, and in a healthy way. You cross a line, I set a fence up, and let you know. Time goes by, and it happens again. So another fence is set up, until you learn boundaries. Eventually, you will either leave or learn how to respect me (and yourself, really). It's easy here. Just delete their comment. They will know. They can ask.
Sometimes you have to go further; some folks just think they are right. I have severed relationships on Facebook, for instance; two people there, people I love and have loved and known most of my life. Overall, however, I rarely have ever deleted a comment Ihave posted because I know my audience. When I go on someone's page, I know how far I can go with them. It's not my responsibility if their friends don't know me. I just learn to...finesse my comments. Eating crow isn't always bad, when you add gravy.
Loving the unlovely means that even those closest to you can hurt you. We all carry secrets, and secret hurts, and even some wounds we aren't even aware of, but linger deep beneath the surface of our lives. God closed Rachel's womb, but He didn't tell Jacob. He didn't tell Leah, or even Rachel herself. You do not know what drives the people who cross your path. Sometimes your husband or wife, your fathers and mothers, or your friends have issues that are unresolved. Maybe you are the solution. Perhaps you are to be God's instrument to save them, to help them, to heal them. You may be His hands extended.
Just so you know...loving the unlovely doesn't always mean you will be loved back. They are, after all (to you), the unlovely. That can mean unloving, unwilling to love, and downright mean until the coffin lid closes over them or you. Sometimes, most times, it is about you, how loving changes you.
The greatest love you can give? Laying down your life for your friends. It takes dying to your own flesh, to your own feelings, at times. Then God added to this by telling us to love our enemies. I think that covers the "unlovelies" pretty well.
I can go on and on...lol...because God always turns the apple a bit more to show me how little I do love others. Here on Livejournal, loving the unlovely can mean scripting who sees your posts, your pics, and notes. Some people get too religious, some people get too liberal, some people just...say crazy things. Some people sent me a friend request on Facebook because they heard I posted nice pics. Then I stopped posting pics. I never hear from them. lol
Loving the unlovely isn't easy. It's hard. It's a divine attribute, since God is love. So aspire for greater things, a higher calling, and see where it takes you. When you choose to love, you connect with God, and that is never a bad thing.
Finally...love is NOT a feeling. It's a choice. It takes will, it takes fortitude, it takes a mindset to truly love someone. How do I know this? Because we have the "unlovelies" in our lives! It's easy to love someone who loves you back, who is there for you, who goes to bat for you, who sticks with you through thick and thin. Try loving the one who doesn't love you back, who attacks what you say, who sets his or her will against you at work, in your neighborhood, at school, and even at church. Love is a choice. When times are hard, when relationships go into the depths of hell, and your love is tried by fire, choice is what keeps it there. Anyone can bail. It takes a choice to stay where you are, to battle through your adversity, to love beyond capability, and to love the unlovely.
There are times in my life where I have had to set barriers between my loved ones and I, where they crossed a line, and I needed to remind them. Sometimes it gets messy. You can feel like a hypocrite, and everyone views you as the perpetrator, and not the victim. But love never fails, even when it is expressed by a temporary wall.
Most of us grow up not understanding love. We throw the word around, but we don't really understand it. It is God, really. God is love. You want a taste of the Divine? Love, and strive to love. Let it take you beyond your comfort zone, and you will go places you have never known before.