It seems that we all know about how we are supposed to turn the other cheek, give up our coat, and forgive seventy times seven. However, there is another side to Christ’s love that we don’t hear as much about … I’m referring to the tough side of love.
Believe it or not, I’m not talking about my children .. although as a parent, these things certainly apply. I’m actually talking about people who Christ has put in our path that need not just another hand out or just another body to enable their dysfunction, but rather, they need a hand to help hold them accountable.
I had a situation recently that I had to be one of those hands. At first, my attempts to assist were eagerly accepted and there seemed to be a direct change for the better. However, the change was short-lived. As I began to hold this person accountable, the scenario began to reveal a self-defeating ‘victim’ status that seemed to plague this person. This was the hard part for me. Certainly I wanted to help this person .. I wanted to see this person succeed .. however as time continued, it seemed that rather than climbing out of the hole, it was just getting deeper. It got to the point where I had to make a choice. I could either continue to enable defeat or do my duty and say .. enough. How do you help someone who is simply not willing to help themselves?
Forgive me for saying so, but I don’t like this part of being a Christian. Truthfully, I’m a sap for someone who has a ‘bad’ story. I literally feel their pain and can understand why they are the way they are. But this situation really made me understand the importance of doing my part to stop enabling the ‘I’m a victim’ cycle.
So the other side of love is this .. sometimes we have to be ‘tough’ with people. Not mean .. tough. The difference is all in the heart. I really did feel for and understand how this person had gotten in the pit. However, I also realized that victory would never be achieved until this person looks in the mirror and stops blaming today’s problems on yesterday. Can I tell you? I hate being the one to say that. I know it’s supposed to be a blessing, but it doesn’t feel like much of one. At least not yet because I don’t see any change.
Maybe that’s the reason it’s so hard for me. Despite all MY efforts, I didn’t see anything change. At least not yet. I’m just another random hand reaching out to someone who’s not quite ready to climb out of the pit.
Not that I’m going to stop being compassionate, because if anything, this situation just increases my desire to help others. I just feel like I had a visit from a vagabond and really really thought … there would be change.
I guess the tough side of love is realizing that not all the people Christ puts in your path are at a point where they are ready to change.
Ugh … what a different world it would be if they were.