It’s me, mom…trying again to share a little of what life has taught me before you leave home on your own adventures. It’s me, broken, bruised, so-far-from-perfect mom, acting like I won’t be a call or a text away if you’re having a bad day. It’s me, the mom that has failed at modeling self-acceptance and self-love to you, and probably made it harder to live in that space yourself. The thing is, sometimes, I desperately want to give you the gift of not having to learn some of these things the hard way…even though I know you won’t really understand a lot of what I write until you are trying to learn it for yourself.
I think one of the reasons I am late in getting my blog posted this month is because this is just a really hard topic for me. I know how much I let other people’s brokenness touch my broken places…and when that happens, how often I am filled with the opposite of love…resentment, self-protection, judgment, and even disgust. I am also very aware that I find it difficult not to battle those same feelings toward myself. I know that if I can’t love and accept myself for all that I am (and am not), I really can’t love and accept someone else.
- How will you react to someone who attacks you with hateful words that find your mark deep on your already cracked, insecure heart?
- How will you handle yourself at work or in a class if someone condemns you unjustly?
- What if someone you know, and care what they thinks, judges you for something you know is at the core of what makes you, you?
- What if someone you loves rejects you?
I found the perfect quote…and then lost it. The essence of the quote was this: If someone attacks you, judges you, or interacts with you in a way that is hurtful, remember that it is their brokenness, their pain or hurt that is hurting you. When I can separate out someone’s actions from their humanness, I have more room to find grace and love for them, regardless of how they treat me.
Combine this with some biblical truths:
Love is unconditional
Love always forgives and never holds a grudge
Jesus loved us first, while were still sinners. He knew everything about our ugliness and brokenness and still chose to go to the cross. For me. For you.
Love is our highest call.
What we get is an answer to loving unlovable people that seems trite, hard, and over-simplified:
Loving the unlovable is easy because no one is unlovable. Love is a choice, and with the right eyes, love becomes the easier choice.
God sees each one of us as His masterpiece, knit together with great care in our mothers’ wombs. He adores EVERY person He created. He loves us as we were created to be, and His love is not clouded or marred or lessened by the bumps and bruises this broken world and our own choices have marked us with. Those are the eyes I should be looking at everyone with. Including myself.
When someone I loved spoke words of hate and hurt over every aspect of my life and who I thought I was, I was devastated. Then, my own pain and hurt didn’t allow any room to find love or forgiveness for her. I could have cared less what her pain was, and I promise I wasn’t looking for it. Now, looking back, I know that had taken just a moment to breathe and ask myself some questions, I would have reacted totally differently in the moment and our relationship would not have been as broken as it was.
How do you see her, Lord?
What is the truth about her, and who you’ve created her to be?
What broken places is she touching in you, right now, that make you want to hurt her back?
If I’d taken the minute to step back, ask for His eyes – for her and for me – I would have reacted in love and honestly, nothing she said would have hurt me as much as I allowed it to. I would have realized that she was in a moment of intense PTSD and pain, and was reacting out of that, not out of me or my actions. I would have remembered the truth about her, which is that she is kind, loving, generous, and compassionate, and she truly adores me. I would have been able to see that her words hurt as much as they did because I still couldn’t truly accept those parts of me, myself…and I judged myself. I was allowing her to confirm my own insecurities and the lies I already believed about myself. Had I taken even just a breath when the venom started to spew out of her, I would not have yelled back and banished her from my life. I would have waited, and listened, and tried to meet her where she was with compassion, and been very aware that was happening actually had almost nothing to do with me, and everything to do with her.
“Love unlovable people, because we have all been unlovable at times. People usually need love the most in those moments when they deserve it the least.” Dave Willis
So there it is: I have not always done a great job of loving people in their unlovable moments, and I will continue to screw it up. What’s worse, and I am pretty confident you’ve seen this in me and I’ve passed it on to you – I fail to give myself these same graces. I can be pretty unlovable, I can do pretty stupid things, I can fail to do my best, I can disappoint – myself, and others. Am I asking myself why I am so hurt by something I’ve done or failed to do…am I asking God to give me His eyes for me…am I reminding myself of the truth about me…before I spew disgust, judgment and resentment at myself? Am I choosing to love myself even when I am unlovable?
My prayer for you is that you will accept all of who you are, and are not…and then that you will learn to love yourself…the good, the bad, and the ugly – just like God does. From that place may you live in peace and joy. I pray that you will be able to separate people’s actions from their humanness, and find your way toward compassion and unconditional love for your fellow humans. And I pray, most of all, that you will see yourself, and others, with God’s eyes.
Check out my dear friend Sarah’s blog for more on this topic. She spends her life’s work on loving those that the world has called unlovable. After that, roll on through to some other blogs about love.