Loving others, even when we’d rather not

Loving Others

Loving others, the very essence of life, is not always the easiest choice, is it? Maybe not, but it’s still the best option. Poet Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) speaks to the value of love in her brief verse posthumously titled “I Had No Time to Hate.”

I Had No Time to Hate

by Emily Dickinson
I had no time to hate, because
The grave would hinder me,
And life was not so ample I
Could finish enmity.

Nor had I time to love; but since
Some industry must be,
The little toil of love, I thought,
Was large enough for me.

Emily Dickinson said in poetry what Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968), said in prose a century later: “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is to big a burden to bear.” Moreover, their words echo the truth of the writer of 1 John: “Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.” 1 John 4:7-8

A Tough Calling

Loving others: it’s what we are called to do. It is indeed a tough calling–people are complicated and relationships are tricky–but still, “the little toil of love” is worth the effort. And, when we are fully in tune with God’s love for us and when we are completely aware of the limitless mercy and grace God gives freely to us, that godly love spills over into our relationships with others.

The problem? That awareness is fleeting. See, the very second God’s infinite love slips out of our short-term memory, we remember how irritating humanity is. The instant we turn our ears to the lies–“you’re not enough,” “you need to work harder,” “you are too broken to be repaired”–our eyes immediately focus on the shards of brokenness marking everyone else.

Hard to Love

Loving Others bible

And let’s face it. People? They’re hard to love. People talk out of turn and take cellphone calls in restaurants. They take too many breaks, fail to meet deadlines, and drive like maniacs. People break our hearts, cancel appointments, and forget our birthdays. They promote the other political party and cheer for the other basketball team. They refuse to get help for their addictions and they won’t go to therapy even though we all know they need it. They smell bad, act weird, and forget to wear their hearing aids which is just so frustrating to the rest of us. People! They’re indulgent parents, lenient ones, and neglectful ones. They complain too much, they don’t do what they said they would, and they take on way more than they can handle. Plus, they lie, cheat, and steal. Seriously. People? They. . . we. . . are hard to love.

Love Anyway

The solution? We love anyway.

We love the irritating ones and the obnoxious ones, and even the ones who truly–and seemingly intentionally–hurt us. It’s not easy. But, we remember that God first loved us. And we practice love. We give the benefit of the doubt. We offer grace. We hold our tongues. We withhold judgment. We take deep breaths and smile rather than snarl. It definitely takes practice. But, when we make the effort, somehow loving becomes a habit and grace becomes our default setting.

And over and over again, little tiny moments combine and create a life that reflects God’s love. . .”because love is from God. . . . “

By Aileen MItchell Lawrimore

Aileen Mitchell Lawrimore is a mother x 3, wife x 35 (years not men), minister, speaker, writer, retreat leader, and lover of beagles and books. She has a lot to say.