March 9, 2023

“A work in progress!” Those are the only words I can use to describe myself at this time in my life. I’ve lived long enough and had enough experiences to mature in some ways, but I still say and do cringe-worthy things. When will I ever learn? I believe the answer is found in 1 John 4:12: No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us.

What a great scripture! So, how do we love one another? When I think of loving others, I always think of my grandkids. I love them unconditionally. When they say or do something they shouldn’t do, I forgive them.

I always give them the benefit of the doubt by thinking about their intentions instead of their actions. I love watching them learn new things and can see the numerous ways God has blessed them with intelligence, talent, beauty, and wonderful personalities… ok, I’ll stop!  You get the idea. I need to see everyone through this same lens of love, through the eyes of God.

But what do we do about those who are difficult to love? We all have those people in our lives who can say and do things that really irritate us. By looking at that person through God’s lens of love, it’s so much easier to forgive and move on.  We can ask, “what makes this person want to express their opinion?” or “why does this person feel the need to monopolize the conversation?” or “why does this person say rude things about others?” If we look closely, we can usually identify the answers.

I’ve concluded that I’m to love God and everyone else – no matter what and I don’t want to give the irritator or the irritations the honor of consuming my thoughts.

Philippians 4:8 says, Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.  I prefer to dwell on things that are pleasant and to accept love and gratitude from those who appreciate me. People like my grandkids!

And on days when it’s difficult to love others, God always nudges me with the reminder that it’s likely I’m an irritating person to someone else, even if I have the best intentions.

Through these 40 days of Lent, I hope to give up something important, and that’s the ability of others to irritate me!  I pray to see others through the eyes of God, as His beautiful children, created in His image. What do you need to give up?

Susan Meharg, Assistant to the Executive Pastors