It is hard not to hold others to a higher standard than we expect others to hold us to, isn’t it? We expect so much from others and yet our own personality quirks, moods, or prejudices keep us from hitting the mark which is the bulls eye of unconditional love. We crave it, expect it, seek it out, willingly accept it, bask in it, and then we are unwilling to give it whole heartedly.
It is easy enough to love unconditionally when we are talking of our own children, less so when it is our spouses…or our children’s spouses… or our own in-laws. Not so easy when it is the co-worker that ruins our day just by saying hello. And it definitely comes slowly to the needy friend who monopolizes our time and energy with problems that either seem trivial or are created of their own accord and could easily be remedied by the simple act of forgiveness.
Unconditional forgiveness and unconditional love go hand-in-hand, do they not? I mean forgiveness is really something we do for ourselves. We can actually forgive someone else and they never even know it! Jesus, Himself was our example of this simple truth while on the cross he uttered a simple phrase. “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34
I did not, could not understand that concept before I became a Christian. How then do I explain it to my young friend who holds a hybridized theory of religion picking and choosing the things which make her feel comfortable…who says she believes in Jesus as the Savior but has never experienced the freedom true redemption brings? A young friend who is being devoured by jealousy, doubt, insecurity, and unforgiveness in her heart for another. Seeds of hate and resentment that are consuming her soul and leaving a wake of destruction so wide it is hurting those who love her and she doesn’t even realize it!
I do not, by any means, discount the fact that she has been hurt. She feels she has a right to be mad and is willing to hang on to that anger with every ounce of her being until she feels she has been rightfully vindicated, whatever that is. Oh how I wish she could understand… that which she is clinging to is a love killer and the love it is killing is her own!
I know prayer for her and this situation is all I can do but it does not stop me from wanting to grab her and scream at the top of my lungs that it is all about the forgiveness factor. That true unconditional love has to pass through forgives for it to be viable. That we need to seek out the good and not the faults of others in our lives because it is there we find happiness. That she reach out and grab hold of that Jesus she knows so little about and hang on for dear life…for all eternity!
I cannot help but think of the interviews I watched of the 9/11 victims families…of their last conversations… of the mother, the wife, the husband… who would give almost anything to turn back time to just minutes before the plane smashed into a building where their loved one sat at a desk with a hurting heart because of something said, done, or left unsaid. People who would take back words spoken or actions done without thought in haste and anger. People who now only pray their loved one knew they were truly loved.
Life is too precious, too fleeting to live it in a state of unforgiveness…and yes, sometimes it requires a little swallowing of the pride, an attitude of losing the battle to win the war, a little self sacrifice…but the rewards are long-lived and so very satisfying.
1 Corinthians 13:4-13 “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophesies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect will disappear. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror, then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.” ~NIV
Father God, today let me see past myself, my wounds, my hurt and give me a heart of forgiveness. May the reflection I see in the mirror today be the promise of you…the spirit of you…for I know that it is when I see past myself to others that I can be a servant to you.