1 Peter 4:8
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
Love conquers all. Love knows no bounds. Love is the answer, the fix-all. If we would just use the power of love more often, imagine how different the world would be. What if we all led with love instead of hate, fear, anger, and stress?
But we don’t. We welcome drama and allow it to devour our lives. We claim satisfaction in succumbing to the chaos caused by negative emotions. Due to our stubborn refusal to live a life of love, we suffer sleepless nights, headaches, tummy issues, disease, missed opportunities, loneliness, and heartbreak. The effects of living without love permeate through every crevice of our lives.
Do you know someone who is difficult to love? A family connection, such as that unexpected, odd uncle, or through marital ties, such as “is she really my mother-in-law?” Or maybe they are a co-worker or neighbor. These relationships are not happenstance choices; they are relationships of proximity.
Consider the negative energy you expend on such a relationship; the dread of seeing them at each gathering. You gossip about the person. Your mind races at night, going over past, present, and future; covering what-ifs and coulda, woulda, shoulda scenarios. You obsess over meaningless details. Tension runs through your scalp and down your neck, gripping your shoulders and back. You hurt all over.
All that unpleasantness could be avoided if we simply led with love.
The next time you find yourself dreading that social interaction, take time to ask yourself why you dread this person. Be honest. Chances are you don’t even remember. Or, it is something perceived but not necessarily true, and often based on our own scenarios, thinking up “I bet” notions of the person. You know, “I bet his wife can’t stand him,” “I bet she’s a brown-noser with the boss,” you get the idea. We are all guilty; we weave stories about the lives of people based on our own self-serving lies. It makes us feel better about all the negativity we harbor for this person.
Not long ago I attended a neighborhood reunion. I was uncomfortable about seeing one guy in particular, I didn’t know why. I hadn’t seen this guy since we were teenagers. We had grown up together from early childhood. I found myself filling in memory gaps with negative false memories to help my brain understand why I dreaded seeing this guy. Only it doesn’t work that easily. The dread didn’t go away and I kept feeling more and more stressed.
A few days before the party, a mutual friend triggered a true memory for me. She asked me if I ever got over him giving me that nickname. Bingo! The nickname. As a child, I had a terrible lisp. Nothing I said came out quite right. I was uncoordinated and clumsy. One day we were playing kick the can in the circle. It was my turn. I tried to kick the can and fell flat on my bottom. Everyone started teasing me. I retorted, “I thlipped” (I slipped, in lisp). This guy turned it into “Flip,” and it promptly became my nickname, which I hated and stayed mad at this guy for literally decades. For the adult me, it served as a reminder of my lisp and my awkward childhood.
I dreaded seeing this guy based on my insecurities.
At the party, this poor unwitting victim of my negative thoughts greeted me with a huge bear hug. I mustered the nerve to ask him if he remembered the nickname he gave me. He didn’t and asked why. I explained I had hated that nickname. He responded he never meant it to hurt me, he thought my lisp was adorable and had been teasing me because he thought it was cute.
I had wasted so much time and energy, all negative, both as a child and as an adult, over a silly nickname that someone gave me with good intentions. What if I had led with love? I would have reacted to the nickname differently in the first place. I wouldn’t have unconsciously carried anger all these years. We might have remained friends over the years. Who knows what good could have come out of a lifelong friendship such as that could have been? And think of all the opportunities missed because I didn’t lead with love.
My example may seem small and trivial, but the message is clear. If we all reacted to life’s situations by “loving each other deeply” first and always, we would experience life differently. The world would be the better place we talk about.
This week challenge yourself to think before reacting. Lead with love instead of anger, hurt, or stress, and see how your life begins to bloom.