Saturday, January 16, 2010

I Love You, But...

"You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect."
Matthew 5:43-48 (New International Version)

Over the last couple of days I've been learning about the art of love and it's been a wonderful experience.

"Love" as an Incantation
I received a call from a dear friend a couple of days ago who had received a bunch of calls from other friends telling her that yet another friend had called each of them accusing her of all sorts of terrible stuff. In addition to the accusations themselves, the accuser asked everyone he called to decide between him and my friend asserting that, if they didn't decide, he would no longer befriend them.

Knowing my friend and the circumstances surrounding the accusations, it was imminently clear that accusations were baseless and the accuser was simply lashing out at my friend because... well I'm not sure why. The catch is this: in each case, as the accuser made his accusations he sandwiched them in statements of how much he loved the friend he was accusing. It's as though, as long as you 'say' you love someone, then you can 'do' anything you want to them.

Our accuser seems not to quite get the point.

Loving the Accuser
I'm pretty good with people coming after me, attacking me, etc. and still maintaining an attitude of love and acceptance. I'm not so good when I see people going after friends of mine, especially when they're bullying.

When I heard my friend's story and how essentially the accuser was trying to discredit her to the point of taking away her livelihood, my initial response was to go after him hard, fast and decisively. I'm quite good at that kind of thing and, well, although I could have said that I would do so lovingly, it wasn't exactly love that was driving me.

My friend appreciated my enthusiastic support, but did not take me up on my offer. Instead she asked if we could simply brainstorm ways to love her accuser and potentially bring him around. Wow! She was actually doing love, not just talking about it.

So, we embarked upon an exercise to reach out to her accuser in as loving and accepting a way as possible. It's been an amazing experience.

The Clarity of Loving
As we loved and accepted her accuser, our thinking became clearer and clearer. We considered all the accusations to see where they might have merit and where they didn't. We saw how the accuser was simply acting out of fear and then worked to understand what might be driving that fear. We worked together to draft a letter to her accuser inviting him to talk about the accusations and to work things out. Everything became clear, easy and relaxed.

In the end, neither of us knows how all this will work out; in the end, it doesn't really matter. The process of approaching the whole situation from a place of love seems to be all that really does matter.

All You Need
As I indicated, we're still in the midst of this little dramatic adventure. Who knows where it will take us and what we'll discover. But, as Chris Kisling pointed out the other day, "In the end, he who loves the most, wins!"

I would add for clarity, he who actually loves, not he who says he's loving.

Lovingly, Teflon

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