“I love her but she is so…”
As soon as the words spilled from my mouth something nudged at my heart and I found myself pausing. I left this discussion feeling uncomfortable about what I had said. In the same breath, I proclaimed love while pointing out a perceived flaw.
This conversation has entered my mind repeatedly over the last few months and has left me asking myself this question;
If I love someone, am I all in?
Am I prepared to love every bit of the people I say I love, even in those “hard” relationships, or is there conditions?
I know you can relate when I say “hard relationships.” You know who I mean; we love them—we really do—but, well, they’re hard to get along with.
I have friends and family that span all different backgrounds and ways of thinking, and I’ve realized since that day that either I love them or I don’t.
My heart was prodded because I see now that there is no room for “I love them but” in this world where Jesus died and forgave all.
“I love them but…”
They yell too much.
She’s angry all the time.
He is hard to get along with.
They make foolish decisions.
She’s so judgmental.
They’re really uptight.
He/She won’t help themselves.
(Insert undesirable quality here.)
How many times have I decided that my love for someone else has limitations or is dependant on how they behave?
Since this conversation, I have noticed myself almost (and yes, finishing) saying these four words.
These four little words trigger me to think before I speak now, and honestly, to think before I think.
Our feelings and thoughts about a person begin in our minds and inevitably find their way out of our mouths and settle into our hearts.
I’ve come to realize that catching these thoughts before they come out of my mouth is paramount to changing my whole perspective. To really, truly love a person fully, warts and all, with no conditions, means I don’t wait for them to change. And furthermore, I don’t point out “that thing” that drives me crazy about them.
It’s saying, “I love him/her/them.” Period.
Flaws left unspoken and grace abounding.
I have found that when I love this way, without limitations, and focus on why I DO love someone, these shortcomings that felt so unbearable all but disappear. A discontentment that I’ve had falls away when I actively choose to leave faults unspoken.
Much needed humbling.
This whole prodding from Jesus to love completely has humbled me in the process. I have several times imagined others saying “I love her, but…” about me.
It’s not pretty.
“I love her but…”
She’s habitually late.
She’s a procrastinator.
She’s afraid of too many things.
She’s a know-it-all.
She talks too much.
Oh, how the list could go on…
Loving a person wholly has prompted me to acknowledge my flaws and the grace that others have shown me in spite of them.
It’s interesting when I turn the spotlight on myself—suddenly other people’s flaws and weaknesses don’t seem so serious.
This is nothing new…
I know this isn’t a new revelation. Jesus has always taught love, acceptance, and forgiveness.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” John 13:34
We can know we’re told to love as He loved, but it’s amazing when you really put it into action. No buts.
Yes, we will disagree or not see eye to eye on something, but that is not where our focus should be.
When I care for a person my love should know no bounds. Their faults are a part of who they are, good or bad. I have found that the more I love without pointing out imperfections, whether to myself or others, I love more fully, completely, and freely.
It’s freeing for me. I believe purely because it’s a choice I’m making with no restrictions or conditions set on the other person. Love simply isn’t about other people changing.
I’ve heard it said, the measure of love is to love without measure. This quote has been attributed to St. Francis de Sales and Augustine of Hippo. Regardless of whoever said it first, they are absolutely right.
When we love without measure, we love completely and freely— we love without holding back.
Certainly, we all have deficiencies, flaws, and defects that make us less than loveable. But does this mean we deserve less love or a guarded portion?
Not according to how Jesus loves.
“Let love be genuine…” Romans 12:9
The NIV version of this verse says sincere and the NASB says without hypocrisy.
The word “but” is a conjunction which is used to show a contradiction with the previously stated statement. Therefore, if I say I love them and then follow that with “but,” I partially negate my first statement.
Jesus didn’t leave room for a “but” when he told us to love one another.
Yes, those that we love will irritate us, annoy us, and rub us the wrong way.
And I believe it may be precisely these times where we lean in and love them even more.
Those hard relationships may never get any easier and those people may never really become any easier to love. And yet, we must love anyway, because we have been so greatly loved—warts and all.
I want to extend grace to others above anything else because of the grace I have been given.
Although clearly, we can never love as fully and completely as Jesus does, we can always improve on how we love.
I believe this is a step in the right direction;
“I love them.”