Do not waste time bothering whether you ‘love’ your neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as we do this, we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him.
Romantic love is a relatively new idea in the long history of mankind.
We moderns take for granted that in order to DO something kind and loving for another person, we must FEEL kind and loving toward that person.
But that’s not really what love is all about.
We act in love all the time without feeling love.
Changing diapers. Changing oil. Cooking chicken nuggets when you really want coq au vin.
I am absolutely convinced God makes babies utterly helpless because as parents care for them, they come to love them more deeply and in ways that would never happen without hours and weeks and YEARS of hands-on ministration.
That same principle can be transferred to anyone.
If I am having a hard time “loving” my neighbor or my co-worker or my family member, if I begin to DO loving things for them, my heart will follow.
Maybe not in a day or a week. It might well take a year or more. But eventually, the feelings will develop.
And if they don’t because the person continues his or her prickly ways?
Well, then I will have become a more loving and patient and kind person regardless of their response to me.
Either way, I win.
So this year I am purposing to choose three people in my life that are hard to love and begin actively loving them.
I am going to make sure I contact them often, speak kindly, include them in events and reach out in other ways. I will look for small favors to do that can brighten their days. I will remember birthdays and anniversaries and other special days, I will speak well of them to others.
And I will pray that grace flows both ways from them to me and back again until it blossoms into love.
Stay tuned. 🙂