Published on June 7th, 2013 | by Brooke Bernhardt
God, Do I Really Have to Love Her?
It’s easy to love the lovable: the precious children who giggle sweetly, the beautiful but lonely single mother, maybe even the dad who is funny but disrespected. It’s easy to love the cute, kind, and caring but harder to love ugly, stubborn, and harsh, the one who speaks foul language, the disrespectful, obnoxious, and even annoying.
I’ve lived my life for nineteen years believing that it was ok for me to not love those people. I thought that acting kind at a distance was enough — you know, choosing not to care or get involved in their messy lifestyle. Then I realized that this is indifference — and isn’t indifference the opposite of love?
Do I really have to love them? Do you?
Well, what does Jesus say and what has Jesus done?
I don’t about you but I’ve had some very ugly times in my live. Times when my heart is ugly, selfish, and sinful. Jesus loved me when I was ugly. He chose me while I was a mess. How much more shall I love others who are ugly or suffering from a similar sinful condition?
Brothers and sisters, may we stop talking about love and may we start truly demonstrating it in our actions, in everything we do, with everyone we meet. Teach me Lord to love the unlovable, to kiss the foreheads of the disgusting, care for the hard-hearted, to share with the greedy. Help me to always be a servant and take away my “I’m better than you” attitude.
When I was in academy, I worked at a nursing home as an activity coordinator for a year. I hope I never forget that year and everything those old people taught me.
I still remember Betty — my dear friend whose hand I would hold almost every day — as we walked into the sunshine. She would simply hum contently and joyfully in my presence everytime I took her for a walk. Even though her face was old and her body was wrinkly and smelly — she was beautiful.
I saw past her ugliness and was able to see through to her joyful, genuine heart.
Unfortunately I also remember another lady at the nursing home who wasn’t so beautiful to me.
I regret this, but my memories of her are stained with ugliness. This lady’s face had huge wrinkles and a big wart right on the tip of her nose. She had long disgusting fingernails — and I was warned that she could be carrying a variety of awful diseases. Her hands would shake violently and uncontrollably throughout the day. Every time I walked past her door she would cry out for help.
She was disgusting. She was ugly. She always had pants that needed to be changed. I remember writing about her and her ugliness one day in my journal. I thought it was the saddest thing that nobody would help her… and then finally realized why not me?
My question to God was, Do I really have to love her? She’s so ugly.
What a shameful question. I wish I didn’t have these sinful, selfish thoughts.
Sure she was ugly on the outside — but aren’t we all ugly in some way? We are all broken and sinful in nature. God chose to love us in the midst of our disgusting mess. He said, I will go and I will love them.
Sometimes you won’t feel like loving, but love is not an emotion. Love is a choice. Love is a choice to care and do something to make a postitive difference in someone else’s life.
If we want to love like Jesus we have to love the ugly, the spit, the throw up, the blood, the poop, and the mess.
I used to say that I never wanted to be a nurse because I didn’t want to see people naked or to wash them in their filth. Slowly, God’s beginning to teach me what a privilege it is to love people in their ugliness — just not their beauty — because that’s how Jesus first loved me.