"Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds" by William Shakespeare.
I think he was onto something God has been trying to teach me for years now. I'm so wishing I could finally 'get' this message! But, just when I think I am getting it, God ups the ante and takes the message deeper, which simply means He takes me to another level of hurt, sort of saying, "Will you still forgive and love them now?"
How easy it is to love those who love me and treat me well. How easy it is to offer grace to those who are kind to me, even when I see how they treat others in a disgraceful manner. But, let that poor behaviour turn toward me and it's not only a challenge to forgive them and refuse to be offended, but it's very difficult to love them, just as they are and in spite of how they are treating me.
How do we differentiate between our hurting emotions and the fact of unconditional love in the midst of fresh pain? How do we choose to love them as a valuable human being when our emotions are screaming in pain?
I sincerely wish I knew. As I am right now, when freshly hurt, it takes every bit of energy I have to not give in to what I'm feeling and say, "Ok God, I choose to forgive them and I refuse to be offended by what they've done (said)". Sometimes I just want to be mad for a time, to hope I'm around to see them 'get theirs' and sometimes I just flat out don't want to forgive.
But I hear, very quietly, in the back recesses of my mind, 'just forgive, don't let it get to you', but I think it's the biggest challenge in my life. Those who know me well know I've had lots of challenges, but I think none can compare to this! Especially when hit after hit after hit comes before I've even had much time to process the first hit!
In time I remember forgiveness is God's gift to me (ok, and all mankind as well) to release me from being hooked to that person and that transgression, dragging me down into anger and bitterness and it's much easier to forgive. The emotions are still in pain, tears still fall, but that's ok, that's just emotions, and to say in the face of great emotional pain, "Father, I forgive them and I refuse to be offended", well it's very freeing and I appreciate that.
My being angry and bitter has little affect, if any at all, on the life of the person who hurt me, but it has a huge affect on me and other relationships I have. I don't want to give them that kind of power over me and forgiving frees me from that.
Now, back to "love is not love which alters when it alteration finds", I guess the bottom line is this, if I love others only when they love me or treat me well, it isn't really love, at least not the unconditional love God talks about. I've heard this in sermons all my life, but it seems to me I've been loving in a very conditional manner.
So, I guess like David the Psalmist, I too must say, "Change my heart O God". A scary prayer if ever there was one, but necessary 'cuz I'm not so sure I like the one I have very much.
Blessings as you continue the journey you are on.