May this blog be a blessing to you as you seek to understand the why's behind addiction and where to go from here.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

To Love, Even When it Hurts

Imagine Jesus on the cross, in immeasurable pain, bearing fully the wrath and burdens of the world's sin, and enduring the mockery and abuse of not only the religious and political leaders of that age, but those that only days before were singing Hallelujahs to Him as He rode a donkey into town. Now imagine that some of the people that are abusing Him will later be named as Christians and come to know His Love, even after the most extreme level of hatred toward Him. Peter later says these people he is addressing in Acts 2 are the ones who crucified Jesus, as they had demanded crucifixion in the Romans' court. His future children are there, killing Him. And yet Jesus looks with pity upon these mockers, haters, and extreme assailants and prays, "Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do."

That is the kind of love that we are called to.

Now we believers in Christ, full of sin ourselves, are called to be more Christlike with every breath we take. Our complete focus is supposed to be kingdom- and spirit-driven. And yet we fall completely short of that goal with just about every action, if we are completely honest with ourselves (yet we are abjured to press on to win the prize). We deserve hell because of our sin, and yet God has invested so much mercy and grace in us so that we can give the same to others. Freely you have taken, freely you should give. And so our goal, in being more Christ-like, is to love those that have committed horrendous evils against us. But it seems like we have this stacked deck against us, this sin nature against which we fight that keeps us from being that good, that merciful, that forgiving. We are met with the imperfect that is constantly reaching to be more like the perfect, that we are striving and reaching to be more like the One that we cannot possibly be like until we meet Him face to face.

If our highest priority is to Love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, soul, and strength, then our focus should be on Him first, and how He has loved all of His children down through time no matter how hard-hearted they were, and with a longsuffering to their sins and indifference. So, no matter what is going on with your relationships, you need to realize that the time and care you spend with Him is of the utmost importance. ALSO, the scripture is clear that we love Him by obeying His ways. And His ways tell us to love everyone with no preference to ourselves.

The second highest priority is to love our neighbor as ourselves, and we know from the scriptures that neighbors are basically everyone that we come into contact with, including our so-called enemies (Satan notwithstanding). This becomes especially tough when you have a loved one that makes them self into your enemy, refusing to show you love or respect. It becomes demoralizing, and it can hurt for those that have issues with abandonment or rejection (I know I do).

But the first priority is what empowers us on to the second. Without the first, you can't really continue in the second. You can't love others if you don't have a sense of what love really is, a love that is from God, a love that is longsuffering and doesn't look for returns from that love.

Love hurts, especially when it is not reciprocated and those that are supposed to love you the most let you down constantly. But I would posit that if your focus in your relationship is based on whether or not you feel valued or accepted in life or even by God as a result of how other people love you, then your priorities are way out of whack. Maybe you even have some symptoms of addictions such as co-dependency, relationship addiction, emotional dependence, or other similar relationship-bound mental or spiritual disorders that can plague a believer.

Some focus on their own boulevard of broken dreams, the family that they were hoping for laying in a shambles all around them. Again, your vision is based on a return, something you are hoping to get out of the relationship, rather than a selfless love that is based on the sacrifice that God made for us. The Father gave His son, the son gave up the peace He had in heaven to come in the lowly human form and suffer mightily, and the Holy Spirit suffers through our many continued sins to minister to us and carry our prayers heavenward. God continues on with us, sometimes without promise of any return. So we should also look to our relationships and realize that there may never be a return.

If your children rebel, pray that they would come to know, love, and serve Christ, not primarily that they would love you. Perhaps in their love for God they will learn to love. If your spouse has fallen out of love for you and can't muster a speck of respect for you, pray that their relationship with God would be greater, then continue to love and serve them; pray for your marriage for the sake of serving God in the family unit, and that your spouse would also learn to love when it hurts. But if your goal is to FEEL fulfilled in your relationship, your focus is off a bit. Men, God wants us to love our wives as Christ loves the church, washing her in the word. I'd say that Christ continues to love the church when that love isn't returned, reaching out to sinners while they are still dead in their sins and trespasses to generate a new life in their hearts.

Pray for the strength, brothers and sisters. It hurts, but God will help you to BE fulfilled, both in this life and the next, though you may not FEEL it. Take your pain to Him, pray for strength, and do your best to love all others, even when it hurts. Jesus did.

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