Thursday, May 3, 2012

Loving Even When...

There was a boy a few years back that I met a handful of times. Despite the hundreds of miles that separated us, we somehow managed to become good friends.

You'd be a fool to believe that I had never thought about anything more with him...because up until the moment he started dating someone else, I genuinely thought I stood a chance.

Between emails and phone calls, we shared our hearts and lives with each other in ways that I had been closed off to for a long time. I felt he had opened up to me in unique ways, too... and although we were very, very different, our commonalities seemed to bring us together. Together we were two lonely people, questioning life, love and our faith. He was driven, successful, honest, funny, intelligent and wanted my friendship.

Just my friendship.

Eventually I told him I loved him.
Not that I was in love with him... but that I loved him.

For those of you who know me, I don't spit these words out easily. But this time, I meant it. I wanted to mean it. As we began to dig deeper into each other's lives, I realized that before me was a man who was hurting, closed off, and prideful. I felt this need to love him. To love him in a way that I hadn't ever loved anyone before.

And as I set out on this journey, I realized that it would look different because the Lord would ask me to love this guy even when he didn't love me back. As much as I hoped and dreamed that our friendship could blossom into some type of romantic relationship, that was never the purpose... that was never the end goal. As much as I wanted to run away from this friendship, as much as I wanted to stop offering parts of myself to him as I sought to challenge, encourage, and simply be there for him... I knew that loving him when he didn't love me like I wanted him to was necessary.

I remember one time wanting to pull out fast. And then I happened upon a Scripture I am I sure I had never seen before. Maybe because it was in Numbers.
When a man makes a vow to the Lord or takes an oath to obligate himself by a pledge, he must not break his oath but do everything he has said. 
I had made an oath.  Not only to the Lord, but to this guy... to myself. See for yourself:
i don't know how love you... but I do know that i do love you.  and it's a love that has nothing to do with emotions or feelings or romance.... but it has everything to do with being there for you in whatever capacity you'll allow.... it has everything to do with walking through the good, the bad, the ugly... of rejoicing when you rejoice and mourning when you mourn....of reminding you that you, just as you are, are loved deeply and intimately and nothing can change that. 
I desperately wanted him to know that he mattered. That Jesus mattered. It seemed that if loving him in such a way gained me nothing and him just a little bit of that... it was worth it. It had to be.

I wasn't perfect in this attempt to love. As I debriefed it occasionally with another friend, he had encouraged me to write a blog about the journey. Loving someone even when..... they disappoint, they betray you, they break your heart, they make fun of you, they don't love you back. I fear we all have a lot to learn about this.

I never thought I could save this guy. I knew that wasn't my job, as much as I wished my words or my presence could bring him into a place of total surrender. So I did what I could.

I loved him.
Imperfectly and with great struggle. But, it mattered.

Who are you actively loving right now?
Who are you loving even when...
Who are you choosing to not love because it's not as easy as you'd hoped it be?
...i suppose i need you to know that loving you isn't conditional.  i'm not going anywhere.  and even if our talking decreases, or your desire to be friends disappears, or you get super busy, or start dating someone, or you lose your job, or you move away, or you're broken and don't want to risk anything with anyone.... i'll still be here whenever you want or need me.  i recognize that i can't force that on you, but i need you to know that it's yours for the taking.  
 What if they weren't just words and they became our reality?

Make an oath.
And then follow through on it.
Maybe, just maybe, you'll be a part of truly changing someone's life.

At that point....isn't everything worth it?
I hope we all think so.

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1 comment:

  1. it's amazing what will happen when you actively love someone. i had someone do that for me... in fact, the situation was nearly identical to what you describe here. in the end, it made a difference in my life and i am thankful for that person's love.