Love Them (even when you don’t like them)! 

You don’t have to like someone to love them. 

That was a game changer for me.

I’m quite certain you’ll relate to this. There are a few people who have treated me poorly, lied about me, hurt me…and I choose to pray for them, bless them, and forgive them. I choose to love them even though I don’t like them

Why? Well, I do this because hating them didn’t work

This is important: Hating them didn’t work. Hating them made ME more upset, more miserable. Hating them didn’t bother them one bit, but it kept me in a prison of sorts. 

So I started praying, blessing, and forgiving  out of desperation. Gradually, I did it out of obedience to Christ. And now I do this out of habit. I’d like to tell you I do it because I’m super holy. Nope. I’m a work in progress.  I do it because I stay happy when I do. I do it because I enjoy peace and joy. I do it because I need mercy and forgiveness on a daily basis. I do it because it works. Love works. God’s way works! Can you say FREEDOM?!? 

“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…” Matthew 5:44 

“Jesus said: ‘Love your enemies. For if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.'” Luke 6:32 & 35

Y’all, it’s taken YEARS for this to become my default behavior. Even now-knowing what I know-I frequently indulge in a day (or three!) of whining, fussing, and cussing before (FINALLY!!) doing what’s right, what works. “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” Romans 7:15 NIV  I guess I’ll chalk it up to my petty, selfish flesh. 

Here’s to choosing God’s way over hurt feelings, over pettiness. As always, I wish you MUCH joy. 

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Mary or Martha?

Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.”

And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42 (NKJV)

As I read and reread Luke 10 it seems that Jesus is teaching me how to treat others, how to best use my time (and energy and attention and resources), and how to bless and serve him best. And I’ll admit it. Deep breath. I’m a Martha. I understand my God made me with this personality and there are many blessings to being this way. I am a ridiculously task-oriented person, driven to accomplish everything on my to-do list in record time. I get a lot done. I follow through on things. My house is usually company ready. My Christmas cards always go out early and my gifts are usually wrapped by Thanksgiving. I always have a project (or seven).  However, slowly and surely, I am starting to see the wisdom and the blessing of embracing the Mary way of life. And I’m trying. Truly. Some days I’m even succeeding. 

The more I grow, the more I realize it’s all about loving people. It’s not about a squeaky clean house, being two weeks ahead at school, or about having ALL of my piles dealt with. Oh, if you knew how my mind screams in rebellion at that last sentence. Yeah, I’m still growing. (Sigh.)  God’s girls keep growing and seeking His face, right? 

An elderly neighbor chats with me at the mailbox after a long day of teaching and before a long night of grading, cleaning, and the like. I flick away the annoyance that creeps in and I choose to love and live in the moment. (I now call it loving in the moment!)  God is good and He lovingly, patiently continues to help me choose to act like Mary more often than like Martha. 

A friend calls, needing to talk about her kiddos. My sweet friend is raising teenagers alone and they are making questionable choices. Again. Sigh. Housework can wait. Martha is shoved aside. 

A coworker stops by to vent and then brainstorm ways to deal with a particularly challenging child we share. If she hadn’t appeared at my door, I could’ve finished for the day and been home earlyish. I showed Martha the door and asked my colleague to come and sit with me. 

My hubby wants to run over to a nearby lake and play. This will take all day. So much for finishing my projects.  Martha bites the dust once again. 

You see the point. In every instance I reluctantly chose the Mary way. I believe I chose correctly, but it wasn’t easy for me. At all. It was worth it, though. My sweet neighbor lost her husband and needs human contact. My precious friend needs a sounding board. My awesome coworker needed validation and a fresh perspective. My loving husband, an endlessly patient man who well understands my Martha nature, deserves fun. And I, hot mess that I am, needed the reminders that people matter more than my to do lists. You know the saying, “And so it goes”? Well, in my life it’s become, “And so I grow!”. 

 I’d love to hear from the other Marthas (and a Mary or two) out there! As always, I wish you MUCH joy! 

Got TWITTER? Tweet with me! @julielclarke

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