Sunday, March 8, 2009

Loving Others

I love How-To Books. I love the Food Channel. My family loves to watch the show How Do They Do That.

I think I love all these things because I'm at heart a teacher. Even though I hated most parts of homeschooling my kids, I loved the time when I explained a concept and they understood it. Still today, I love to break something hard to understand down into simple parts that can be grasped and then used effectively.

Most of my Christian life I have tried to find someone to break down this life into steps and formulas to live the "Abundant Christian Life." But I have found that this approach is severely flawed. I'm in the process of throwing out all the books on the Christian life, or marriage or child rearing that do this. They are dangerous. They are dangerous mostly because we stop relying on the Father for wisdom and begin relying on a set of rules or principals.

Jesus had this same problem. The religious instutions of his day had broken down life in God into nothing but rules and principals. So what did he do? He said that there were only 2 rules or things to do. Love God and love each other. That is it. Every time you read him saying that we should keep his commands - these are the two he is speaking of. I think even the apostles of old had a hard time just keeping it simple like this, but that is another post.

But at the risk of understanding that rules and principals have their flaws, can I tell you about one that I am using that has been amazing? (This actually came from the writings of Darrin Hufford - not original with me) This one is for the times that I wonder how to love someone - especially if they are being hard to love at the moment or have severly hurt me in the past.

I first think about someone that I truly love from the my heart. For you, pick someone that is easy to love. Someone that you would actually die for. Someone that everyone else knows is your favorite. For me, I choose someone that if they lie to me I am heartbroken, or if they speak harshly to me I am wounded. Someone that can get to me.

Then I take the love that I feel for this person and, like a pair of glasses, I try to view this other person who is being hard to love through the same lenses. I ask myself - How would Love behave to this person? If I loved this person as much as the one I do love, how would I treat them today?

Folks, I'm telling you, this works. It has worked to change my heart about those in my past that have wounded me, it changes my heart about the crazy driver in front of me or the kid on the street that is drunk and throwing away their life. I feel that it works ultimately because it is tapping into how the Father feels about this person.

The greatest thing about this is I have not turned into a mush-ball-of-love-and-gushy-ness. See, the one I truly love is one that I am ready to not only give to but also correct, protect them as well as confront them, touch them lovingly but also discipline them. I want their best and love lets me understand how to do that most effectively. It does not become weak in their presence - It becomes strong!

And don't think that you will become a doormat for everyone to walk over. See, true love has boundaries. Love will not allow someone to be abusive. Love sometimes walks away. It never takes its heart away but sometimes it has to leave for the other's good.

Anyway, would you try it out for me and let me know how it works for you? Ask yourself, "What would Love do here?"


Seek and you shall find said...

wow. I like this. I keep having to change my "glasses."I'm at the stage where I'm walking away because i don't know what else to do, but my heart is sad..

Seek and you shall find said...

I tried it today! I prayed that God would go before me into my workplace, i prayed that he would be my strength as i am so weak, i prayed for the eyes/glasses of His love.. and i went into the office of my friend, who i had become almost afraid of.. and we talked and laughed!! We haven't been able to do this since i discovered all the junk stuff and I tried to tell her, 6 weeks ago. Thank you Barb, for reminding me that love covers a multitude of (my/our) sins, and together with his word,is theonly light in which i need walk. I Thank God that He is Love.
Thank you for your help too. I have only recently discovered your blog, have never blogged before.What a comfort to be able to read solid, real encouragement from someone brave enough to share. Thank you.

Sue said...

This post has stuck with me since I first read it, as if I am sitting inside a ringing bell :) Go-n-n-n-n-n-g-g-g-g-g-g-g!!! :)

I actually came back here to read it again because I have just been awash in torrents of tears, feeling a bit tossed to and fro the past few days, and to top it off I just got "bible slapped" by someone online. I reacted more than I would have liked and I was upset thinking about how I always let my fear of rejection suck me into being buffetted by judgmental people. I am upset at my reaction because I am really beginning to see how childish the bible slapper's faith is. I suspect many are not assured of their own salvation of a capricious God (perhaps I am reading too much into it though). I think, how best to love this person going on the assumption that this is how their faith is? Reacting irritably does not help at all in that situation.

Anyway, all that to say that I came back here and reread your wonderful post and it's comforted me. Whenever I am around that sort of person in any fashion, if I stay too long I begin doubting. I start wondering if I haven't made God too nice in my own image. It doesn't happen as much nowadays as it used to, but occasionally someone will hit a weak spot. I still have so far to go in this area. Thanks for the encouragement of this post ... even though I feel like I quite failed at it!! :)

hunnybee said...

Hello there! I used to be 7catz many moons ago. I went away from blog-land for a bit and I decided to check in again. Your writings among others have always been helpful in my recovery. This is an awesome post:) Challenging... I will give it a try, I can feel the resistance already lol!, which shows me where Im at in the healing department. Bless you :)

Erika said...

Ask yourself, "What would Love do here?"...

Having to ask ourselves this question is a humbling indication that acting in a Jesus way, in spite of being indwelt by his spirit, has yet to become a real part of our own being. It goes back to the same old challenge of not just doing, but becoming/being the image of Jesus to others.

Sounds a lot like the (trite?) WWJD slogan often ridiculed by so many believers (shouldn't it be "What IS Jesus doING?, blah, blah, blah). But if it is perceived as you have explained it in this blog, Barb, then I would have to say I've been trying to apply it this way for a long time, although with not nearly as good a success rate as I'd like!

So as we journey toward Christ-like love, we ask ourselves over and over again "What would Love do here/WWJD?", and then hopefully act it out. I look forward to those times when I no longer have to purposely stop, ask it again, and wonder if I'm getting it right this time. My hope is that the need to ask will decrease as time goes on!

Thanks again for a wonderful post,


Barb said...

Seek, thanks for trying it and giving a report!! And thanks for reading!

Sue, I'm so glad it meant something. I know if someone I love behaves in a "Bible slapping" kind of way I always look for the reason behind it. If I can understand the reason, it is always easier to love. The key is that when it is someone that I love - I ALWAYS look for this. And don't worry about failure. It is taking a lot of brain energy to remember to do this first :)

Hunnybee. Welcome back!! Blessings to you.

Erika. In some ways it is a WWJD kind of slogan but I never understood how to really do that except in my brain. When I look at someone and try to love them like someone that I actually love, If I look through those lenses, then I can see what I maybe should FEEL and not just think. Somehow this goes beyond WWJD kind of thinking and instead makes it a What would Jesus feel if he really loved that person like I do _______.

Thanks for leaving a comment too!

Erika said...

Hi again, Barb.

Good distinction you pointed out...between feeling (WWJF) and not just thinking/doing! What I was trying to articulate above was that I realized long ago that the thinking & doing is not supposed to be separate from the feeling. I think a good goal is to eventually have those loving/godly feelings (being like Jesus in my emotions) first or automatically, and then the doing will be that much easier.

In the meantime, your suggestion is a worthy way of transferring love you already have for someone to others maybe not as loveable. It's a wonderful thing to understand and trust in the perfect love that God has for every one of us, and to be able to transfer that love to others. Loving the unlovely is only possible because his love covers a multitude of sins.

Anyway, it's a big learning curve, but I love it!