I never intended this to be a two part blog post, but the last couple of weeks have taught me a thing or two about love. Not romantic love, but real, gritty, make your heart ache kind of love. I said before that love is a daily decision, a choice that we face each morning and that is still as true today as when I wrote it.
But the new thing I have learnt about love is that if you want to see lives changed and amazing friendships born then you have to stick it out. God's love is unfailing - He NEVER gives up on us. So I find it really hard to accept it when people say "You can only love people so far" or "cut them loose" as I don't see this in the bible. Instead I read about God's unfailing love and good deeds to His chosen people:
"Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind" Psalm 107:31
"God has said "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you"" Hebrews 13:5
If we are to desire and strive to become more like Jesus and more God-like in our character then surely, surely, we need to try and show unfailing love to those around us. Christians should be the ones who keep on loving when everyone else stops. As long as our source is God and our identity is in him then is doesn't really matter if the people we love try to hurt us, because we know that they come from a broken and hurting world and they don't know any better.
I am not advocating being a Christian doormat - hear me there. I used the words "try to hurt us", and that is crucial really. Because if we are locked in prayer and communication with God, finding our peace in Him, then most of what the world throws at us will mean nothing. Believe me in this that when you are ready for it and prepared and standing strong on the word of God in His protection, the world can throw anything at you and you will still be standing. (Look at Ephesians 6:13!)
The moment that they do actually hurt us, in whatever way that is, and that we can't cope with it is when we have to step back and let God fill the gap. We can still love that person through prayer, but it is more loving to protect ourselves in situations like that.
So this week I had to physically walk away from a friend who I had tried to love with my actions, words and prayers but who had thrown it back at me in one moment. And I had to seriously stop and think whether I wanted to carry on choosing to love them. In that moment I cried for the fact that my love hadn't been enough, I cried for the loss of what could have been an amazing transformation and I cried because I had failed. But then God picked me up and said no - you can still love that person even if you are not there physically. You can still pray and you can still encourage from afar. You have not failed because the world has tried to push you away. You only fail if you don't get back up and keep loving. So today I choose to keep loving because that is what God is doing and that is what God is challenging me to do also.