I’m writing this post on how to love people because God keeps having to teach me how to love people.
I guess I might be writing this for myself. I need this. Loving people can be hard.
Like, actually loving them. Not just being nice to them. Not just showing kindness. But actually loving them.
I’m not proud of what I am about to share. I’m weeping over it actually. There are some people in our lives that are very hard to love. I’ve never felt this way before.
THESE are MY people, and they are the easiest to love. I don’t have to try to love them and in fact, my love for them is so great that sometimes I can’t even breathe. As God has grown our family, my ability to love has grown. It’s remarkable to experience.
Meanwhile, our little ones come with some baggage. Their baggage becomes mine and I sometimes find myself dealing with texts or communication with people that make me want to scream, ” I JUST WANT TO LOVE AND RAISE THESE KIDS!!! I DON’T WANT TO DEAL WITH THE REST OF IT! I DIDN’T SIGN UP FOR THIS!!!”
But in fact, I did sign up for this when I said yes to God’s yes. So now I have to figure out how to live and love like Jesus through it.
Am I just a mama bear?
A friend of mine (after I puked my feelings on her for the many-eth time) recently kindly and wisely defended my feelings. “Your mama bear instincts want to protect your babies. There’s nothing wrong with that.” And she’s right. I will always and forever do everything I can for the good of our children, protecting them and seeking what is best for them under harder-than-normal circumstances.
But the truth is that while many of my feelings are normal and understandable, I also have to choose how to use my time and energy when I encounter a challenge with an outside source. How can I do this?
How to love people?
Yes, how to actually love them.
Matt, who is calm and wise and always my sounding board, offered some insights recently and I’ve been praying over them ever since. When I face a challenge that I have no choice but to deal with, I can either:
- shrink and become soft
- bristle and become hard
- or I can choose to let the Holy Spirit do its work in me to truly hear and respond in love
I’m not actually ever responding to anyone with angry words. The problem is inside my head and heart.
My energy and time cannot be taken up by swirling angry and frustrated thoughts. I cannot allow myself to choose ugliness or to let ridiculous inside-my-head conversations full of everything I shoulda-coulda-woulda said to overrule my thoughts.
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5
This passage tells me to:
- Take my thoughts captive.
- Make them obey Christ.
All day long.
A boundary around my heart
Someone else’s words should never set my head on fire. Yet I’ve been surprised at how easily angered I can become.
I have to set boundaries in certain relationships, and I have done this. But the biggest boundary is to be put around my own heart. I’m prayerfully working right now to put a Holy Spirit Filter around my heart and head so that when I read a text or have a conversation that frustrates me or makes me hurt, I can still be at peace.
How? By choosing to hear every word through a filter of love.
By recognizing that my God is already at work in each situation. By accepting that He fully loves me and He fully loves the hard people in my life. Because of this, I can love them too. But only with the help of the Holy Spirit.
So I’ve stopped trying so hard
I can’t do it. I can’t love better or be better or do better. It’s all too hard.
But the Holy Spirit can love wholly and freely, and He lives and works in and through me. I am refusing to take on anything that isn’t mine. This includes conflict and any challenge that someone might want to direct at me. In all circumstances, Matt and I will prayerfully work to do what is best for each of our kids. When we come under attack, we will allow the Spirit to give us a loving response. First in our own hearts, then naturally to others.
This brings incredible peace. It also allows love to flow freely, which beautifully takes the place of anger and hurt.
It’s almost a new year
If you’re hoping to do better or be better in 2023, this is great. But I pray that your focus has to do with that which is Spiritual. Nothing else actually matters and everything else, physical and otherwise, will fall into place if we are seeking to let the Holy Spirit be our complete guide and rescue.
My most necessary goal:
To hear every word through a filter of love.
This is my goal, with the help of the Father who sent a comforter to dwell in my heart. This changes everything about how I use my mental and emotional energy, which changes everything about how I walk through my days and love my people.
Dearest Father, help us when we cannot help ourselves. We need you. We can’t do this without you. Be our God. We praise you and seek you for rescue. In Jesus’ name.