There are times when I am tired of loving people. I grow weary of being the bigger person, giving the softer answer, understanding other people’s perspectives and blah, blah, blah. I just get over it; over the constant struggles, over the criticism, over the judgement, over the debates, over the confusion, over the guilt, over being blamed for everything, over being the first to say “I am sorry,” and over being misunderstood.
You know the days – when your inner “pride” pushes your inner “love” out of the way and says, “I got this one girl.” Pride is a funny thing, if you really think about it. It comes in so many forms. Some of the most prideful people are experts at making themselves appear humble. Then again, some of the most humble folks are pros at making themselves appear to be arrogant. It’s a tricky game us humans play, whether know we are playing or not.
Pride is often (maybe even always) the outer expression of our deepest insecurities. Now, I don’t mean pride in the sense of “Team Spirit” or “being proud of your kid’s accomplishments.” I mean ugly pride – the kind that makes us dig down deep into the darkest part of our souls searching for our next revenge on our current enemy, our next witty/sarcastic/mean-spirited comment, or even our next “loving” or “respectful” intelligent argument.
I am guilty of all of the above and my victims are typically those closest to me. People suck. I suck and you suck too! 😉 Offended? I don’t blame you, I would be too. But the hard truth is that we all suck and what we suck at most is LOVE!
Oh, I am a romantic at heart and have no problem thinking of thoughtful things to do for my loved ones. If I see my sister’s favorite candy at the store, I will buy it and leave it at her doorstep with a love note. If I see my grandmother is the only one doing dishes after a big holiday feast, I will jump in there, dry, and put away. If it’s my husband’s birthday, I will bake him a peach pie from scratch because it’s his favorite.
But the minute someone I love crosses me, every ounce of pride rises up like a small army of soldiers ready to go to war. Now, this happens when people I don’t deeply love offend me too; but these guys are less critical to my personal life, so it is much easier to let go of.
Selflessly loving someone who is supposed to “love” me back, when they have either intentionally or unintentionally exposed my insecurities, is about the hardest thing I have ever been challenged with. It requires laying down offenses and basically convincing myself to rise above the pain I feel in my heart and the strong urge to ruin them in that moment.
When I hear Jesus’ command to love my enemies (Matt. 5:44) I find myself thinking “who in the world are my enemies?” I mean, it is not like I am surrounded by Ancient Roman soldiers as Jesus and His gang was. I am a fairly peaceful gal with most of the world, but there are a few types (or situations) that I find “loving my enemies” close to impossible.
- The Self-Righteous: The ones who think they are spiritually superior to everyone else, has it all figured out, and truly believes judging others is their job.
- The Mean-Girl: The ones who think they are the coolest, wealthiest, prettiest, most fun and just socially better than everyone else.
- The Imperfect Family Member: The ones who I normally “love” but in moments of human weakness they expose my insecurities.
What do all three of these things have in common? Personal insecurity. The self-righteous often makes me feel like I am not “Christian enough.” The mean-girl often makes me feel I am not socially awesome enough, and the imperfect family member often makes me feel I am not loved enough.
The theme here is that I am not enough. So I reach for “pride” to protect my deepest and most common human fear that screams “I AM NOT ENOUGH!”
Perhaps the most interesting thought of all of this is that the reason the self-righteous acts spiritually superior, the mean-girl acts socially superior, and the imperfect family member exposes insecurity is because they themselves are tragically insecure and also have a deep inner fear that screams, “YOU ARE NOT ENOUGH!”
The truth is ladies (and gentleman), we are not enough and the reason we are so insecure about it is because deep down we sense that our greatest fear is for legitimate reason. Even the best of us miserably fail ourselves, our co-humans, our planet, and our God. We are naturally screw-ups – EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. OF. US.
There is but one answer to this daily inner struggle and it lies in the one who spoke the ever-famous words, “It is Finished.” When Jesus spoke those oh so precious three words, He was basically saying, “The price has been paid for human insecurity rooted in sin and those who accept His sacrifice and make Him Lord of their lives can truly believe they are enough.”
Jesus’ sinless blood stains the wrenched sinner and His unconditional love pierces the human heart. He says to each and every one of us, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly (Matt. 11:28-30 MSG).”
When we start TRULY believing that WE ARE ENOUGH through Jesus Christ, insecurities will begin to fall off of us one by one. We will no longer be offended by our enemies because they will have little to no insecurities left to expose in us. Since we will become less and less possible to offend, we will become more and more free of defensiveness and PRIDE.
When we become free of pride, we will find it easy to love those who try and offend us because we will see their passive or active aggression for what it truly is – deep insecurity – and we will know that loving them as Jesus loved us will be the only way to help set them free (and quite honestly, keep us free).
This type of love will not look like buying candy, doing dishes, or baking pies; but rather, the willingness to lay down being “right,” remembering the insecurity we once felt so deeply, showing great empathy, and saying, “I get you. I understand. You are not alone. YOU ARE ENOUGH!”
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