Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Love Is More Important

A friend of mine has a bad case of obnoxious relatives. A group of family members on her dad's side have consistently exhibited arrogant, mean-spirited, and even unethical behavior. To make matters worse, they made a scene at her wedding a few years ago. Since then she's done her best to have no contact with them because she gets upset by their inappropriate behavior. But now her grandpa is dying, and she's going to be forced to interact with these people as the family gathers together. She doesn't want to have to "make nice" with them when she disapproves of their behavior, but she also doesn't want to add to her father's stress in his time of grief. She's decided that she will do whatever is necessary to keep the peace with these obnoxious relatives for the sake of her dad. Her love for her father is more important to her than her revulsion for his family.

My friend's resolve inspires me. She has every right to be curt with these people because they have not treated her well, but she is wise enough to recognize that her father's needs are more important right now. She doesn't want him to have to deal with family fighting in addition to grieving. The fact that she's willing to put up with these people because her love for her own father is so strong speaks volumes about her character. I admire this kind of prioritizing in the face of challenges, and I endeavor to choose love more often myself when I find myself in these kinds of situations. If I say that love is the most important thing in my life, then I must be willing to choose it even when the choice is hard, even when it costs me something.

I know that I want love to be the most important thing in my life, but I struggle to live that out. I find myself in many situations where I have to keep reminding myself that love should be the most important thing:
  • Love is more important than pride. I can't sacrifice love in order to save face when someone challenges or belittles me. 
  • Love is more important than fairness. Evening the score or defending my reputation isn't worth it if I have to leave love behind.
  • Love is more important than being comfortable. I have to be willing to go outside my comfort zone if love demands it.
  • Love is more important than self-centeredness. I need to choose to help others instead of focusing only on myself and my own needs.
  • Love is more important than following any plan. If love calls my aside from my planned path, I need to be flexible.
  • Love is more important than right or wrong. Love covers a multitude of sins, so I must not let sins squelch love.
This may seem like an abstract list, but it has plenty of practical applications in my life. Prioritizing love means that I don't get to go out and attack the people who haven't treated me very well, even though their actions hurt and anger me. I can't forget about compassion by sticking it to others when they make mistakes. I shouldn't be complacent when people need help that I can provide. I can't focus on doing the right thing and forget why I am bothering to do it. That means there are a lot of times when I need to stop myself from saying what I'm thinking. I need to challenge myself to love others better instead of focusing on becoming a more "successful" person.

Love is the point of my entire life, and anything that leads me away from love is a pointless distraction. So many things that seem important like prestige, security, intelligence, judgment, and strength have the potential to distract me from my true mission. Everything that is good in my life exists so that I can give and receive love. That's what my life is really about, and I need to remember that as I make difficult decisions every day.

1 comment:

Mel Bowman said...

I need to remember this lesson too.

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