God’s best relationship advice is “Love One Another.” To the point and simple, right? I’m not proud to admit it, but sometimes that advice is difficult for me to follow. When I don’t know how to handle a situation, I tend to avoid it. So when I’m called to “love” another who looks different (maybe with a lot of tattoos?) or behaves (to my eyes) “strangely,” or has political ideas that differ from mine, then the verb “to love” is anything but simple for me. Recently, my eyes were opened to a new way to follow God’s loving guidance.
Recently a member of the Wisdom of the Wounded team sent me a podcast which challenged me and showed be how to begin to actually love “the other.” The podcast, “A Community of Honor in a Culture of Contempt,” stresses that when we “look down our nose at somebody. . . when we lower the status of that person, we shut ourselves off from the blessings that that person has within himself to share.”
Pastor John Mark Comer, speaker of the podcast, went on to offer wisdom on the dangers of contempt. I learned that when I take one aspect of a person and make it the whole person—when I focus on the other’s qualities that I dislike (or find uncomfortable) and make it the whole story about that person, I shut myself off from the talents, gifts, experiences and insights that they carry. AND I also miss the joy of sharing my talents, gifts experiences and insights with them.
In the podcast we hear God’s best relationship advice in Romans 12:9, where God says, “honor one another.” I do believe that God tells us to honor all others, not just the ones who look like us, act like us, think like us. So, it’s up to me to figure out how to live in that way every day.
Last week as Larry and I were walking our 10,000 steps, we came to a street corner where a man was sitting on the ground. I became nervous because in my mind a man sitting on a corner might be a panhandler. I was so intent on walking by him quickly, I barely registered that he said in a pleasant, friendly voice, “Hi, folks. How are you today?” We said a quick “hi” and hurried on because we didn’t want to get into that uncomfortable situation of being asked for money.
It was only later that Larry remarked the man had a little dog; I hadn’t even noticed! I now realize that I was devaluing the man by taking that “one thing” I could see – a person sitting on the ground and making it his whole story. In my mind at that moment, he was not worthy of my time and attention. Forgive me, God.
I could have honored this man by stopping, looking directly at him, and showing interest in him as a person. I could have asked him about his dog or how his day was going.
So, God’s best relationship advice is mine too: “Honor one another.” Strive to really see each person as one who is made in the image of our God, who has amazing worth, who has insights and talents that will enrich our lives—and who wants and needs to be valued.
I am working on it! It will be a process, a challenge and when I succeed, a blessing to me.