The world today is full of broken relationships and broken families. Parents are estranged from their own children. In some cases, many have never even seen their grandchildren. Some have not spoken with loved ones in years because of petty squabbles. Others have written off family members because they have chosen to live by a different standard.
Something’s not right about this.
But I believe the answer to our problems is straightforward: always choose to love. Love is the weapon that can conquer division and rebuild what has been shattered. Love is the answer to the broken home. Love is the answer to the addict. Love is the answer to fractured relationships. Love is the answer to heartbreak.
I’m not being dismissive of the genuine hurt each of us has experienced. I realize different dynamics characterize each of our individual situations. They’re real and they hurt. But what would happen if we decided that, with God’s help, we are going to love like we’ve never been hurt?
Here are three practical steps we can take to get us there:
1. Choose love over hurt
To best illustrate this point, I always point to the story of Joseph in the Bible. Joseph was the favorite of Jacob’s 12 children. Jealousy quickly got the best of Joseph’s brothers, to the point they conspired to sell him off as a slave to Egypt. Think about it this way: Joseph was not abandoned by strangers; he was betrayed by his own family.
Life dramatically improved though for Joseph and he eventually went from slave to second-in-command over Egypt. During a famine, Joseph’s older brothers came to Egypt desperate to buy food. Unbeknownst to them, they stood in front of the brother they had sold who now held the keys to the world food supply. Suddenly, Joseph had a choice. He could either repay evil for evil, or he could love like he had never been hurt.
In a powerful moment, he chose to forgive them. Not only did Joseph heal internally, he also saved his entire family.
2. Choose to love others - Always
Somewhere in your neighborhood, perhaps even in your own home, a teenager just got in trouble with the law or confessed his battle with drugs. As a parent, how are we supposed to react in these situations? Punish them? Turn them away? Give up on them?
None of that. In fact, just the opposite. Eat with them. Call them. Reach out to them. Be there for them. Tell them, “I love you.”
Sometimes we think we are doing the right thing when we refuse to have contact with loved ones who are not living up to our standards. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Instead, I remain convinced that love never fails. Always choose to respond in love.
3. Choose to press forward
If you have been hurt by someone - if you have been betrayed, abused, abandoned - there comes a time when you have to pull yourself from the pain of that situation and say, “Enough is enough.”
Harboring bitterness and reliving bad memories lead nowhere. It’s counterproductive. You must choose to stop the cycle. Let it go and leave it behind.
To love like we’ve never been hurt is not something we can do in our own strength. We need the grace of God to help us make that phone call or send that text.
I am not promising you an easy road, but with your eyes lifted toward heaven, God will empower you to love others the way you should. Lean on him to help you stop fighting and start talking. He will help reconcile your relationships. He will make your family whole again.