This past Sunday marked our one year anniversary of attending our church. Originally, I had written up a draft reminiscing of my family’s adventures in finding this church that we call home, but I discarded that because I want to share what’s going on in the present, rather than focusing on the past. Lots of things are happening, some good, some bad.
What I really want to share is something that has been on my heart ever since I was sick with a nasty cold last Sunday. I stayed home from church and listened to a sermon by Ben Stuart on how God Is Our Father. What struck me was that God loves me. Like, He loves me. And I didn’t do anything to make Him love me, He just loves me because He is love. So, that caused me to question myself: how can I love God more? Like, how can I rejoice and get excited over God’s love even more than I do now? How can I love like He loves? What are some areas in my life that I need to work on loving like Him? Do people see God’s love shining out of me when they come in contact with me? So, I prayed about it. And honestly, I didn’t think God would answer it, not to mention in this way, but He did.
For the past few months, my family and I have been having some issues with our nextdoor neighbors and just this past week, it had escaladed into something a little more serious. Serious enough that the police showed up at our front door after my parents had confronted our neighbors about a letter they received from the HOA. The neighbors had anonymously filed a complaint about us kids being disruptive and too noisy while playing soccer in our own backyard in the daytime. I know, it’s ridiculous and that’s not even half of it. But from that, to a very unpleasant encounter I had with the husband telling us to stay off of his property (which we’re staying clear of now!), I have found it really, really, difficult to love my neighbors. I felt so angry and confused that they would treat us so terribly when all we have done is make them feel comfortable, welcome, accepted, and above all, loved. Before they even moved in, we have treated them like family, and we have been kind to them, helping them in any and every way that we could.
Forgiving these people has been so hard. I’ll admit, I have been very bitter about all of this drama. It just doesn’t make sense that they would be so mean! I know that they’ve been through a lot these past few months, but that’s no excuse for them to act like children and tattle on us to the HOA or the police over something so trivial.
But. God reminded me through my big sister that He loves these people too. Jesus died for these sinners too. And His love is not like my love. God’s love is patient. It is kind. It is not envious. It is not puffed up, nor is it proud. It doesn’t behave rudely. It doesn’t rejoice in iniquity, rather it rejoices in the truth. It doesn’t seek its own. It thinks no evil. It bears all things, hopes all things, endures all things, and believes all things. God’s love never fails.
That’s the kind of love that I want to have. I want to love like God loves. And part of loving like He loves means putting aside my bitterness and anger and choosing to forgive. Because God loves my neighbors too. He loves them just as much as He loves me. That doesn’t mean that what my neighbors said and did was right. That doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t apologize. But it does mean that I am not going to hold this against them regardless of whether or not they recognize that they did wrong.
If I’m going to love like God loves, I need to love my enemies. I need to love my neighbors whether they’re neighborly or not because God’s love is unconditional. I want my love to be unconditional too. I need to forgive them because if I continue to hold a grudge against them and remain bitter, there’s no room in my heart for love. And I choose to love.
I choose to love like God loves.