Last month, I attended a talk on loving well. The main question was this: why do we find it so hard to love some people? This is a topic that perhaps as workers in a Christian organization, we try not to address. Surely as believers, we would never struggle with that! But of course, this is not true.
There are of course a diverse set of answers to this question of why it can be hard to love, some perhaps even justifiable, but the focus of the conversation that day was on our own brokenness and how it affects our ability to love others. I confess that I hadn't given this much thought. Often, I dismissed my attitude toward certain individuals by reminding myself that "this person is a boundary pusher" or "this person is unreasonable". Although sometimes true, I recognized my own lack of humility and my unawareness of how my own past can create a barrier to my ability to love and minister to others.
And I encounter this even at TCM. There are moments when I don't want to deal with that child who is complaining and whining. There are moments when some teens are going through interpersonal issues and I'd rather not mediate. But if I truthfully examine myself, how much of my attitude is due to the fact that that child's behaviour reminds me of my own, and I'd rather not think about how entitled I often feel? And how often do other situations remind me of a past hurt that I'd rather not relive or think about?
Honest appraisals of our own broken past and inviting the Spirit to bring healing can bring us to a place where we are ready to acknowledge that we are no better off than those we struggle to love and care for. In fact, when we do so, it gives us a more compassionate heart, God's heart, to not only be patient, but believe that these precious ones in turn can also teach us and give us gifts by their presence and friendship.