Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Loving the Unloveable and Miracles

Forcing myself to resolve conflict rather than avoid it has been one change that is partly a result of my faith; trying to love the unloveable is another slow change that has resulted from my commitment to Christ. I've had a heart for difficult children for years, but difficult adults have been another story. After all, who wants to put up with an annoying, obnoxious grown-up? Not me. It's easy to think "She has no excuse; she is an adult."

The problem is that as Christians we're called to love these people as ourselves. Unfortunately there is no caveat for those who have personalities that make us want to kick them, punch them in the face, or otherwise express our dislike. And I've come to believe that avoiding them is not always the right answer either, although I sometimes wish it were. My path has recently been crossed by someone who has been rather disagreeable. He talks too much, can be rather self-centered, is demanding and needy, and happened to drink entirely too much; on the flip side, he's straight-forward and real, game for heavy conversations, and funny. And he's also clearly been wounded and unloved and rejected over the years. His pain is obvious. We've fallen into an odd friendship that has been exhausting me. I've had to rely on God to give me strength, patience, and grace for this man. I've failed often as I've been snarky or short with him or internally ugly as I've encountered him one too many times in a week. As I've considered why my time with him is sometimes so frustrating, I realize it brings out some of the worst in me---my impatience, intolerance, selfishness, and arrogance. I hate being confronted with the sin that festers in me, and I hate that because of this man others are seeing it too. God has been stretching me, and it's uncomfortable.

At the same time, it's gratifying as I've probably never had anyone be so grateful for my friendship. I'm not sure many people have felt as loved by me as this man has. And last week my prayer (and many of my friends') that this man would know Christ was answered, and I've never seen such a quick and radical transformation in another person. His misery and bitterness has seemingly overnight been replaced with joy and hope. It's been incredible, and honestly I've had a hard time believing it. Isn't it crazy to pray for something big and then not believe it when it happens? As much as I want to believe in a God that big and powerful, this experience has shown me that I'm not quite there yet.

p.s. I'm grateful for coffee...the different flavors, decaf, the feeling of holding a warm cup in my hand, the way it makes a conversation even better, and the romance of it all.


Aaron said...

Let me know which person this is on Facebook so I don't wink at them. :O

HappyascanB said...

I love this. Thanks for sharing your story; it's encouraging for someone like me who's scared to get out there and really put my faith in someone's face for their good. Not shove-it-down-their-throat, but share it with them. Love watching you grow in this!

TC said...

There is a part of myself that I'm not so proud of right now, because my first thought when I got to the end of this was "He's faking it." :-/

I hope I'm wrong. Everyone deserves happiness. I hope he's found it - and the peace necessary to make it happen.

Anonymous said...

It is refreshing but sad at the same time to read this post because I see so much of me in you. I had a friendship for about a year that was so trying on my heart, patience and mental health. she tested me and brought out sides of me that I didnt want to see let alone anyone else. it ended up not working out though & i just chalked it up as a "toxic friendship". there comes a time when you have to look out for #1 and take care of yourself but i commend you for doing what you are doing and i hope it works out for the best. you seem like such a strong woman and i know you will do whats best.

now for his coming around so quickly with his faith, i too doubted it but you just have to keep in mind....

"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see "
(Heb. 11:1, NIV)

Ys said...

You always know how to articulate these things perfectly.

allbilly said...

you are going to marry him.

bMoles said...

Coffee blows. Don't marry him. Perfectly is a strong word. I think my last blog is my favorite one I've ever written. You're a good kid, AllyJack.

Anonymous said...

Ally, it's ALWAYS uncomfortable when God is stretching us because it forces us to recognize our own faults. The stories I could tell you about God growing me!

Boy Wonder should be dead (several times over) and but for the Grace of God he would be. Even though he's eight now, I still find myself amazed that I am blessed enough to share my life with a living, breathing, walking, talking, tangible miracle.

So I don't think it's crazy at all to pray for something big and not believe it when God answers that prayer. How can our finite little minds ever understand an infinite God?

Nothing is impossible in God. Nothing!

To be honest, sometimes I find it harder to believe when God answers a small and seemingly insignificant prayer. Totally blows me away!

Ally said...

Kylie: I think it's often easy to just not give God credit for answering small prayers as if He's only concerned with things we think are "big." And you are so right about our finite minds being incapable of understanding an infinite God.

Brian: When I was your age I hated coffee too.

Billy: Wanna bet?

Ys: Aw, thanks.

Tbrooke: I agree that it's important to take care of ourselves--I just find that it's a tough balance between doing things I need to do to be healthy and being selfish and using "boundaries" etc. as an excuse.

TC: I hope he has too.

Bethany: I'm with you on no shoving in someone's face. That's the great thing about friendships--I've wanted to know what is important to my friend, and he's wanted to know what I believe and hold dear.

Aaron: Seriously!

ella said...

This passage made me think of someone in my Bible study who I absolutely cannot stand. On top of that, he give me the heebs. It's really hard to love someone like that when you can't even look them in the eye.

Maybe once God and I get past just texting I'll actually sit down and have a convo with him about this. It's awful and I wish this guy would just leave our group since he's so disruptive to our study.

Ally said...

Ella: I think I know the kind of guy you're talking about, and that's just tough. Glad you and God are texting...gotta start somewhere:)

Jennifer said...

I think it's really beautiful that you decided to pray for the ability to stay in relationship with this man by asking for strength and patience and grace. So often, I just want to write others off when I experience people this way, because frankly, they exhaust me.

How precious that he came to know Christ because of you extending kidness and Christlikeness to him. That both joyed me and convicted me in places I know I should be more patient and kind and full of grace.

Thanks for sharing this story. Maybe our neighbors could use a bit of this same thing....