Christians: Let's Stop Loving the Unloveable
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This topic has been on my heart for awhile. As you read, I ask that you do so with a kind heart and an open mind. May our love be genuine.
I grew up in a Christian subculture of the '90s that emphasized what we could do, and more so, should do for God.
As much as I loved God and desired to serve him with my whole heart, what was produced in my heart was a long list of "shoulds."
I should pray more.
I should bring my bible to school.
I should invite my friends to church.
I should reach out to people, even when that was uncomfortable.
I should love the unloveable.
And because I was a teen who desperately wanted to serve God, I tried to do all of the shoulds.
I prayed awkward prayers, feeling all the more distant from God.
I brought my bible to school, feeling self-conscious and strange.
I tried to invite my friends to church, but often failed.
I honestly wanted to reach out, but I didn't know how.
I felt like a spiritual failure for not wanting to "love" certain people.
Basically, I failed.
The shoulds followed me into adulthood, and eventually "ministry" where they were equally unhelpful.
I should stop and say hi to everyone, so no one would be offended.
I should reach out to the visitors, and the other moms, and the gal next to me at preschool story hour, and...
I should attend all the meetings and events to show my support.
I should instinctively know the right thing to say in the moment.
I should be a perfect picture of the love of Christ, even when I was falling apart inside.
I should love the unloveable.
All of this effort to do everything I "should" eventually shattered my soul. I could. not. meet. the. mark.
And after I completely fell apart — more on that another day — I took a step back, and started asking questions.
Questions like, "If my heart's not in it, is it really love?"
And, "Why am I ruled by all of these shoulds?"
And even more, "Why am I thinking of people as unloveable?"
Now I can only answer those questions for myself, but the answers I discovered in my own heart were intense.
I realized that my beliefs about what ministry "should" look like had set me up for failure.
And that I was "ministering" out of an increasingly empty cup.
I looked back at past situations where people had felt pressure to "reach out" to me, and how icky it felt to be on the receiving end, no matter how well it was intended.
To be honest, it didn't feel like love, being the loved 'unloveable.'
I read Romans 12:9, "let love be genuine." And it literally resonated within my soul.
'Love' that isn't genuine, isn't love.
Reaching out, while internally shrinking back, isn't kindness.
Showing up because you should, not because you want to, only looks like support. It's not authentic.
And if we truly love, no one is unloveable.
You see, the thing I learned is that we love because He first loved us.
He. first. loved. us.
And we have to land there, soak it in, and let that love be the foundation of our lives.
We have to move from commissioned servant, to 'the beloved.'
We have to spend time with our Father, secure in His love, and listen to His heart.
Which, sometimes looked like drawing away from the crowds.
And sometimes looked like challenging religious standards.
And sometimes looked like touching the untouchable.
But it never looked like 'loving the unloveable,' because no one is unloveable to Him.
And as we spend time with Him, as we fix our eyes on Him, we become like Him.
We too, will be moved with compassion.
We'll 'reach out' out of genuine kindness and affection.
We'll perform miracles, feed the hungry, and set captives free.
Not because we should, but because we want to.