Sometimes the people we’re around can get under our skin.
The lesson I struggled with the most in college—“love one another as I love you” (Jn 15:12 NABRE)— also gave me the most opportunities to grow. I continue to learn that many of my insecurities and desires in relationships come from wanting to be loved. A few years ago, I struggled with friends that did not accept me and invite me into their lives in the way I expected and craved. I found that I became angry and on edge when around them, at least until God began to fill my heart with his love.
Longing for love
It is not evil to long for love. God designed us that way. It is where we look for love and how we love others that are the problems. When our love becomes conditional on what we receive in return, how little then, do we love at all! It is selfish and proud to love this way and constantly expect the same love in return. As I found with my friendships, this conditional love leads to bitterness in our own hearts.
Love on the Cross
Love, therefore, must reflect that of the cross. We don’t only love others in spite of their wrongdoings, but because of their failings. The lack of love from others is not an excuse to return indifference or even hatred, but becomes a perfect opportunity for us to bear witness to Christs’ never failing, unconditional love. If we meet people who have hardened hearts, then we are called to love and pray for them with faith that God “will give them a new heart to know [him]” (Jer 24:7 NABRE). There is nothing greater we can do for a friend than to pray fervently for the state of their heart. For, if their heart knows Christ’s love, how abundant their life shall be!