Thursday, April 21, 2016

Loving the Unlovable

Disclaimer: This is written primarily for people in the Human services profession. If you are in an abusive relationship with a  significant other, do not stay in it. You have every right to be loved and respected and not hurt by others. Check resources in your locality and seek help if you are in this situation.

People on the margins of life have been on my mind lately. This is the result of a conversation with a friend and my weekly devotion this week. How many of us can say that we excel in loving everyone, including those who bother and annoy us? I don't expect any reader to raise their hand. If we are honest, we have all failed to love those that are unlovable. We know who they are, the child who is constantly disrespectful, the adult who is verbally abusive, the one's who show no appreciation for what has been provided for them. I am no different. The devotion and the conversation reminded me of a time I failed to love the unlovable. I would like to share it with you.

It was 2009 and I was serving as Director of Children and Youth at St. James United Methodist Church in Tarboro, NC. I had a part time job sitting with an elderly lady at the local senior living community. Things started off well but as time passed she would get angry at me. She would say I was a waste of her time, tell me I was fat and needed to lose weight, then there was the day she ran into me with her walker. That was it for me. I was not about to let someone abuse me when I was trying to be their friend. I called her daughter that night and promptly quit.

Seven years later as I reflect I realize this woman needed the love and patience I could offer and I simply cut her off. One of the most difficult passages to digest in scripture is when Jesus tells us to turn the other cheek when someone strikes it, to walk an extra mile when a soldier demands we walk one and to give the cloak off our back when we are asked for our shirt. Jesus is calling us to a different way of living. Are we going to accept the call?