Love gives. Loves goes the extra mile. Love endures.
That love is not always reciprocated.
As Christ followers, we strive to give love from a pure heart that doesn’t require a person to love us perfectly in return. We intentionally allow God to be our source of perfect love, and we relinquish the right to demand it from others. In obedience to God and His Word, we set our hearts on being patient and kind. We commit to modeling Jesus’ sacrificial love. But sometimes the person we give our love to consistently betrays and wounds us. How do we give 1 Corinthians 13 love in that situation?
Kuddos to Debbie McDaniel for her insight in “How to Protect Yourself from these 10 Toxic People.” McDaniel wisely suggests we set boundaries and limit the control an unhealthy person might be placing on our life. She also notes when “we look deep into the mirror of our souls, we may realize that we are the ones who have some unhealthy tendencies that God wants to change.”
Exposing Dysfunctional Patterns
I’ve got a really strong mercy streak. For decades, I’ve looked for the best in everyone. I pursued relationships with very emotionally unhealthy people. I was sure God loved them and I could, too, but I had no idea how to employ boundaries. I gave love no matter how much pain was delivered to me in return. I was too timid to speak the truth in love.
I lived with a desperate fear of confrontation. My rational thinking dropped into a coma if I sensed any threat of an explosive reaction. Eventually resentment wrestled mercy to the ground. Wounded and exhausted, I would just walk away from the relationship.
That is how I handled my first marriage. Years later, I was very close to repeating the pattern in my second marriage.
A major crisis in our marriage led me to intense Bible study and prayer counseling. God exposed many of my own toxic relationship patterns. I was addicted to the approval of others. I was a great blamer and gossiper. If there had been a contest for arrogant victims, I would have won the crown.
I once was blind, but now I see.
Restoration is God’s Work
Pride kept me from seeing these things about myself. It also kept me focused on how the “other person” needed to change so I could be ok. With amazing grace, God revealed the truth for the purpose of restoring me to wholeness.
He sent His Word and healed me and delivered me from self-destruction. (Psalm 107:20, my paraphrase)
God offers healing and freedom to everyone.
He is waiting to transform the lives of everyone leaking nuclear emotions and throwing verbal grenades. The controller, the abuser, and the too-easily angered are not immune to the power of God’s Word. We are promised that nothing is impossible with God (Luke 1:37, Mark 10:27). There is hope for the bully, the addict, and the one whose mind is stuck in a negative gear. The blamer, the gossiper, the arrogant, and the victim are all offered fresh doses of mercy from God each and every day.
God created those who hurt us. He has a good plan for their lives. He knows the “why” behind their destructive behaviors. He knows the lies they believe about themselves. He knows what stands in the way of their wholeness. He is a Shepherd who pursues every sheep that wanders away from all He offers.