What if we spent February 14th loving the unlovable?
Valentine’s Day is mostly associated with romantic, heart-pounding romance or loyal, long-lasting love. The focus tends to be on reservations for dinner or the (often over the top) flowers, balloons, candy, and stuffed animals that flood our schools, offices, and social media posts.
It is a day to validate a relationship and the day to mourn the end of one.
What if we shifted our view this Valentine’s Day?
What if we turned our eyes from those we love without effort to those we have almost given up on?
Most of us have been there—trying to give to and love on that person who just will not love us back the way we want… or even let us love them to begin with.
How do we continue to love that person? Is this what we are called to do?
It is easy to love those who appreciate and reciprocate that love. But how do we stop ourselves from retreating when our love is not received and reciprocated?
What about those who resist our efforts to give? What about those who we like to call prickly, ornery, or even “toxic?”
Who will love them? Who will keep trying? Do we need an OP order and a mission to love the unlovable?
We constantly receive conflicting advice from spiritual and secular counselors. Many of the popular, self-preservation philosophies, often tell us, “just cut them out of your life!”
Yet we are compelled by the Bible to move toward the unlovable.
It is confusing and complicated, but we can love those in our community better:
1. Start with your neighbor.
Get to know them. Find the good in them. You may be annoyed that you can hear them through the walls or that they don’t mow the grass, but they are human just like us. The more we know someone, the more we are willing to accept their flaws. What a great thing to try on Valentine’s Day!
2. Treat anger with kindness.
Look toward those who work with the homeless, the addicted, and the “at risk”! Ask ANY TEACHER (especially high school) and you will find that they do this every day. Many times people mask their pain with anger. We never know what burdens someone is carrying, so if the first step is to get to know an unlovable person, the second step is to be kind.
3. Love people when they’re down.
It is easy to be around people when they are at a high point of their lives. When people make mistakes, it’s human nature to disassociate ourselves from them. Try not to feel that way. Get into the valley with them. We need to invest in people while they are in the valley if we want them to climb the mountain. We have all been “unlovable” in the valley at some time in our lives.
4. Don’t avoid them, listen to them.
Yes, it can be draining to listen to complainers or negative people, but if you want to really love them, then listen. Sometimes the “noise” of what they’re saying can mask some real potential for change. This can especially apply to FRG politics or someone struggling to fit into a unit, so keep inviting them. This may be hard if the first time ended in disaster. Give them a second chance!
5. Stand by them.
Remember that real love requires a willingness to serve someone even when they are in no position to repay you. Give without expectation.
Is anyone in your life hard to love? Can you allow yourself to be called to show that person love this week?Accept the mission!
Happy Valentine’s Day!