Before I am asked to show compassion toward my brothers and sisters in their suffering, He asks me to accept His compassion in my own life, to be transformed by it, to become caring and compassionate toward myself in my own suffering and sinfulness, in my own hurt, failure and need. The degree of our compassion for others depends upon our capacity for self-acceptance.
~ Brennan Manning
When I came to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ, even though a door was opened for me in the Lord, my spirit was not at rest because I did not find my brother Titus there. So I took leave of them and went on to Macedonia. But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of Him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ. Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, as some do, letters of recommendation to you, or from you? You yourselves are our letter of recommendation, written on our hearts, to be known and read by all. And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
~ paul, The Least of The Apostles, in 2 Corinthians 2&3
Oh beloved, it is true. The path He has set before us is clear, but it is often far from easy. And those of us who have come to understand this, have come to understand the times of richness like these do not feel very much like good stuff.
We come up, sometimes on the reality that do the right thing (read loving the right way) includes letting people slaughter our sense of wellbeing. Oh, it is not that we have to put ourselves intentionally in their crosshairs. But rather, we come to see that, sometimes, the goodness we are living is offensive enough to them that they will see us as wrong or bad or worse.
And further, the pain in things like this usually comes from the people closest to us. We are both rightly and wrongly intertwined with people in our work and family and world. In the right, we have a healthy interdependence with others, wherein we can give, Love and enjoy any goodness the other is able to give back.
But in the wrong, we come to see that some of our happiness or even mental health was based on whether the other in a relationship is able to give us some of the things that we think we need. And it is here that we come to a tough place.
Part of us wants to behave in such a way that the other will give us what we perceive that we need. And this is not so wrong, except when we know that we would be giving up our integrity to simply receive some sort of stroke or pleasure. Then, approaches like this become dangerous. And the only approach is to separate fact from feeling (even though this is nearly impossible to do).
However, beyond this, there is an even simpler, and even more difficult approach. Instead of seeing things from the perspective of our needs. We need to see things from the perspective of the other – and even beyond the other’s perception of what they need – to what is Loving.
And sometimes, what is loving, is to allow ourselves to be crushed and hurt and torn as they process the pain and fear and past in their lives. We are to simply dispense grace and love and truth, but we must realize that we will sometimes receive the near-opposite of what we might hope for when we do.
What to do?
Nothing. Just Love. Give people space. Wait for them, knowing that some may return – and some may continue to revile the grace and Love and truth flowing through you. It hurts, but there is just no other way through some tight spots in the path sometimes.
Can we see it though? All of this is incredibly good news. The cleansing power of relational suffering shows us where we have been allowing our dependance to grow in unhealthy areas. We have the opportunity to see that we very often do not take our pleasure from The Source. We do in fact, keep building broken cisterns which cannot hold water. And worse, we have been prostituting ourselves to idols of comfort and compromise.
So, are you hurting from a tough patch in your relationships? This fool of a writer is. That’s OK, just keep loving the people in front of you. But make sure you (and i) do it for the right reasons, for Love is the profound concern for the wellbeing of another, without regard to whether the other reciprocates. And the person you (or i) Love may not return the favor. They may, in fact, be repulsed by something good flowing through you.
Just Love, beloved. And know ever more deeply that our hurt and failure and confusion is a wonderful opportunity to keep Loving and to receive the only Love that will never fail. Tonight is your night to do something you may have never done – Love allthemore through the hurt.