But I say to you who are listening, love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who are cruel to you. (Luke 6:27-28, NCV)
Having a loved one in the military can sometimes be a conversation stopper with civilians. Many people believe different things about our government, its decisions and the way our military carries out its orders.
As a close family member, we know that orders are orders and must be obeyed—even when they don’t appear to make sense until later. Which means that sometimes in conversation with others, we can end up feeling hurt or defensive. I’ve learned that this is when I need to take a deep breath and mentally move to a different place in my heart, a place I call the “other side of love.”
When everyone around me is behaving nicely, it’s easy to project a loving attitude. But when I feel that someone I love is being unfairly judged, my warmth vanishes in a puff of angry smoke.
The other side of love resides on the other side of an invisible line in my heart. It’s populated by people who think differently than I do, who sometimes dislike me and even attack my beliefs and lifestyle.
As a believer, I’ve come to accept that the Bible expects me to love those people as much as I love the ones who have my back. And having fully embraced that command, I’ve found it easier to migrate across that line in my heart when someone harder to love shows up. To make that shift, I first thank God for this annoying person and ask to see him or her as He does.
Then I shut my mouth. I’ve discovered that if I don’t react quickly and take time to listen, I can find some common ground. When I make an effort to really hear another person, they feel validated and are usually happy to have a reasonable conversation.
It’s not always our job to assume a defensive crouch on behalf of others. Many times God just wants us to listen with love, to disarm our own anger.