I should warn you.
What I am about to say may be a bit difficult to understand. You might have to work to follow.
So lets start as simply as we can.
I want to talk a bit about the nature of love itself.
Now, honestly, I am going to assume a whole lot at the beginning.
Meaning, I am not going to be asking whether you should care about someone else. Of course, you should care about someone else. And I am not going to be talking about whether you should think you are better than someone else. Of course, you should not think you are better than someone else. And I am not talking about whether you should look down on someone else. Of course, you should not look down on someone else. And I certainly am not talking about whether you should have a cold, hard, ungracious, unforgiving attitude towards someone else. Of course, you should not have a cold, hard, ungracious, unforgiving attitude towards someone else. And, really, if you think it is fine to not care about others or think you are better than someone else or any of those things I have mentioned, then you haven’t even really taken the first step towards love.
None of that is in question.
The question is not whether or not to love your enemy, the question is exactly what does it look like to love your enemy, in practice.
Because that can be complicated. Knowing you are supposed to love is simple. Knowing how to love is complicated. And I think we should all admit it.
For example, what does it look like to love someone who is abusing you?
What does it mean to love someone who is abusing themselves?
What does it look like to love someone who is saying things that are spiteful and harmful?
Does loving the person mean accepting and delighting and rejoicing in the behavior?
Because, sometimes people speak as if it did. Sometimes people speak as if loving someone else means accepting everything they do and by accepting, they mean affirming and rejoicing in everything they do without reservation. And they say it so dogmatically. And they say it so self-assuredly. But, I am not sure they are really being honest. Because, if they really meant that, that would obviously be a strange kind of love. In fact, if it were true, it wouldn’t make love something sweeter, but instead something much smaller, and worse. By not acknowledging the complexities of love, they are making love less, not more and the thing is, I think, they must know it.
After all, if a husband’s loving his wife means rejoicing in the fact she has left him to sleep with other men, you would say the fact that he is happy about that, indicates he doesn’t really love her, not that he does. I mean, can you imagine asking someone who has walked in on his wife sleeping with another man, why are you so upset about that? Don’t you love her? He would say, yes, I love her, that is why I am upset. Now obviously, he’s going to have to work through being forgiving, and caring, and all of those things, but I just can’t believe that anyone would say the fact he won’t accept his wife sleeping with other men, means, by definition, that he must not love her.
The reality is we all know loving someone involves and even requires not accepting and affirming and rejoicing in everything they do without reservation. We all believe there is a time to disagree with someone and that it is possible to disagree with them and still love them. The fact that you don’t accept and affirm and rejoice in everything someone chooses to do, isn’t proof that you don’t love them.
In fact, the opposite might just be true.
Now, clearly, there are a lot of people who are unkind and angry and even unloving. There are even people who use this fact as an excuse just to be cruel. I know I can be a selfish person and can even use a supposed concern for what’s right to conceal a lack of concern for someone else.
But on the other hand, I just really wish more of the people who get so angry that people aren’t delighting in what they are doing, would be a little more honest.That’s what I am asking for. That’s all I am asking for. Because they certainly don’t believe that love equals accepting everything that someone does the way I am describing themselves, otherwise they would accept and affirm and rejoice in the very person who is choosing not to accept and affirm and rejoice in what they are doing.
Because, isn’t that what it means to love someone?
Thank God, it isn’t. Sometimes love means not accepting. The question really is not whether or not love sometimes refuses to accept certain behaviors. The question really is, who gets to decide what behaviors we shouldn’t delight in?
And honestly, while I don’t want to sound sarcastic,the truth is, if you disagree with me and would still say you love me, you just proved my point.
And you know what, I still love you anyway.
I just don’t agree.