by Kat Cannon
I’ve been struggling. Not with ministry, not with my marriage, not with my kids. No, my struggle is with my own heart. I’ve come face-to-face with the stark reality that there are some people I am simply incapable of loving.
That’s a tough pill to swallow, ‘cause I think of myself as a loving person. I teach others about things like grace and forgiveness and the unconditional love God has for us and wants us to have for one another. So realizing I’m not able to practice what I preach is frustrating, sobering, and humiliating.
You see, there’s this family member. (as soon as I say that, some of you get it already) He’s wounding someone I love, knowing he’s doing it and with the stated purpose to bring harm. I’m angry – no, beyond angry. I’ve cried in fury, screamed at the sky and begged God to take this guy OUT. All the way out, and I mean it.
I know the right answers, the bible verses for situations like these. I’ve used them in counseling sessions and hallway conversations. By an act of my will, I choose and speak words of forgiveness, pray for my enemy, do all the right Christian things. But my heart refuses to comply. I find this person simply unlovable. And in admitting that, I’m learning some important truths:
Some people really are unlovable. I mean, unlovable by me. God can do it, and for some folks, He’s the only one who can. As much as I want to see the good in everyone, sometimes all I can do is acknowledge that this person is made in God’s image, choose acts of love through gritted teeth and that’s enough. Some people don’t want to be good people. And no matter how much we want to love them, want to forgive them, loving feelings remain out of reach. Which is why we need God. Speaking of which…
I’m still very much in need of a Savior. My credentials, my office at the church, my service, my hours of biblical study and all the other stuff do not – nor will they ever – reduce my need for Someone to save me from myself, not even one iota. Obedience is not my issue here. I want to love unconditionally. Really I do. I’m simply not capable of it. And because God knows that, He sent His Son to die for me. Just as I am. Right now. You, too, by the way. No matter how awesome your spiritual life is or how awful your darkest thoughts are, Jesus died for these. We can be both humbled and honored by the reminder.
Confession is good for the soul. I’ve shared my darkest heart thoughts with some trusted friends, and the weight of my anger lifts a little more each time. Not one of them has judged me for my feelings. They’ve been gracious enough to let me be who I am in the moment, as angry and vengeful as I feel sometimes. They pray with me, and they weep with me. They provide a safe place for me to be REAL. I want to be that REAL safe place for others, too.
God might bring me someone unlovable to unearth unlovable things in me. I’ve had to admit that I want to judge others, to take control, to demand God do things my way instead of trusting that He’s up to something good. I wrestle with questions of why God allows bad things to happen to good people, where the lines are between free will and divine sovereignty and have to admit that I cannot wrap my mind around it all and that ticks me off. I like understanding what’s going on. God’s prying my fingers off my need to know. He’s unearthing my lack of trust in Him because He knows if I don’t trust Him, I’ll take over and that’s means danger for me and those around me. Anyone else in my boat? Yeah, we’ll rock it together and eventually tumble over unless God intervenes. Which He does, sometimes in un-fun ways. But He loves us too much to do otherwise.
So, who’s unlovable in your life? Whenever you and I find ourselves with unlovable people, let’s remind each other that God sees, God knows, and God loves when we can’t. We can open up our hearts to Him and to each other, let Him lighten our load and change us from the inside out. And we can pray for each other, extending grace because He’s extended that same grace to us.
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)
Read Kat’s blog here.