Loving the unlovable sounds impossible. Just writing that sentence reminds me of one of Thomas Merton’s famous quotes, “Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. That is not our business and, in fact, it is nobody’s business. What we are asked to do is to love, and this love itself will render both ourselves and our neighbors worthy.” And this holds so much truth, doesn’t it? I am not to ask, “Is this soul worth loving?”, I am simply called to love.
But I don’t. There is one person in my life that I often find to be unlovable and unworthy of love. She complains about my small mistakes. She misses the goodness of her life and puts the little hiccups of life under a microscope. She is cruel to me. She calls me horrid names: stupid, ugly, untalented, fat, lazy. She judges me and expects perfection from me without the grace and honor I deserve. Yet, I crave her love so much. When I get glimpses of her love for me, I soar. I feel like I can do anything. I begin to forget her lies and begin to see me in a new light.
Why don’t I get rid of the bitch? I mean, even small doses of love isn’t worth the pain she causes. Well, you see, the bitch is me. For me, I can be one of the most unlovable people in the room. It not only makes it impossible to find freedom and love in my own soul, but it also makes it impossible to love others well. When I go out in the world with an internal dialog of hate, perfectionism, and bitterness what spills out is hate, perfectionism, and bitterness.
When it comes to love and compassion, I must start with myself. I can not hate my own soul and claim to love others. It is an impossible goal that many seem to have. In order to love others well, I must start with the most difficult for me to love, myself.
So, I slowly move towards an honest, grace-filled life. I forgive my imperfections one day, and the next remember that I will never be perfect. Perfection can’t be my goal. Completely and honestly myself must be my goal. I need to take the microscope off all the small hiccups of life and put it on the beautiful and brilliant parts of life: my marriage, my children, my friendships, my faith. I must offer the sweet balm of grace to all my mistakes and trespasses. And as I slowly move towards a true and honest self-compassion, I can move into being my own cheerleader. I can see the beautiful in my own soul. I can see what is good and needed for my life and the lives of the people that I do life with. And as I fall head over heels in love with myself, I can begin to love others with a deep and real love.
Does this mean ignoring the pain of life? No, of course not. But in order to walk through the dark parts of life, I must be sure of my companion. And while I have a compassionate and courageous companion in my God, I must also find that compassion and courage in myself. I am, after all, made of the same magic and light as He is.
For more thoughts on loving the unlovable, journey to Lindsey’s blog and then continue through the posts.