“Learning to love others authentically, and in ways that matter to them, is one of the best things anyone can do.” ~ Dr. John Townsend, Loving People
If you think about it, a lot has been written about how to love one another. So we have to wonder why do we do it so poorly. One reason is that we may feel caught between (a) our own hurt or anger and (b) our concern for the other person.
For example, have you ever had someone not show up on time? As you waited, your thoughts probably changed from wondering where he was to wondering what was keeping him to being angry to worrying that something had bad happened to him.
By the time he finally appears, you don’t know which of your feelings to respond to. Should you be happy? Angry? Relieved? You didn’t know whether to throw your arms around him or yell at him!
Which response would you choose? Actually, all those feelings are normal reactions to being left waiting. Initially, it’s not a big deal. Then we worry a bit. Then we get angry for being disrespected. Then we worry a lot. It’s no wonder the perfectly loving response is hard to give.
Sometimes, anger is appropriate. We do need to set limits on disrespectful behavior, even with those we love.
However, the best first response is always grace. Be glad to see him, and express your concern about his safety. In other words, give him the benefit of the doubt and let him tell the rest of the story. Chances are he’s been worried about your reaction and is ready to go into a defensive stance in response to your attacks and criticism.
You will disarm his defensiveness by loving him. Of course, you can also tell him the truth about your mixed feelings. Remember when Sam finally reached Jonah at the top of the Empire State Building in Sleepless in Seattle? “I was so worried. I don’t know whether to throw my arms around you or yell at you!”
The result? He’ll feel loved and cared for. And if he really could have on time, he’ll be less likely to be late next time.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” ~ John 13:34-35