How do we love well in the face of someone else’s sin?
I was speaking with a friend about a rather frightening incident we had experienced recently – someone had pounded quite aggressively on our front door late at night. When we answered it there was no one there, but just a few minutes later someone was trying to break into our neighbor’s shed. The young man then headed straight towards my husband at the back gate that separates our two properties, where he was met less-than-gently by my husband, and sent on his way. I shared with my friend my concern that there is an ever increasing population of homeless people in our area, and that while all people are of equal value, I am cautious of the many who are also under the influence of illicit drugs; another huge problem in our community.
She asked me, how do we love them well in a situation like that? My response was that sometimes love sounds like “no.”
Being loving means being kind, but it does not always come off as gentle, or submissive. Sometimes the best way to love another is to set and hold firm to expectations; to protect ourselves from the decisions of others, AND, to protect THEM from themselves. Fear of loss or consequence which exceed one’s personal selfish motives can allow opportunity for reevaluation and can change the outcome of any given situation.
I am protected from harm and they are hopefully protected from their own lack of personal judgement or awareness in the moment.
We often feel badly saying no to others because we ourselves are often self indulgent and desire our own way, even when it’s potentially hazardous. The self destructive nature of humankind made its grand entrance in the Garden of Eden and remains true to this day.
I personally struggle most with denying those with whom I am in personal relationship with. Being wired to keep the peace, it can be a challenge to upset the apple cart, so-to-speak, and to draw a line in the sand around certain behavior or words. But, this is where we must choose to allow our personal authenticity and core values to rise up and establish their authority in our lives and within the most intimate of relationships. It is only here where love is truly allowed to reign.
Heading into a new year, seize the moment and take inventory of areas in your own life which may need shoring up, and areas where you can choose to love others just a little better. Choose today to love others enough to say no.