Reached out to someone, made yourself vulnerable, and been dissed? In giving your love away, has the other person responded with ambivalence? Their response was “Meh, whatever!” Yours was, “What!?”
You’ve loved them generously and they don’t reciprocate. It’s like the offer of a firm handshake that’s reciprocated with a limp-fish hand. We know it’s their weakness but it’s enough to rile us into taking offense. We can be understood for thinking “kindness doesn’t cost anything, so why can’t you reciprocate my kindness?” It’s a fair point.
But one thing that’s silly is responding out of our hurt in a worse offense than theirs was in the first place.
What do we do with the disappointment of an unreturned gesture of love?
There’s the common reciprocation – hurt for hurt – but they probably don’t even perceive they hurt you! So, there you are feeling hurt without having a response to create understanding in them. No matter what you say or do, you will probably not convince them.
There is a gospel response, however, that works occasionally. We don’t respond in the way I’m describing for the guarantee that it will work, because there are many times it won’t work. That it works or not is not to be our motive.
This is all we need to remember:
When someone hurts you, be something more.
We all appreciate receiving this sort of grace, so why would we not be prepared to consistently give it?
Transcend their lack of love with a love that can only come from God. This kind of love does not look for reward. It chooses to act in love and kindness and grace because it can. Because it’s the right thing in humility to do. It’s not about what they do and don’t do. Life is about what we do and don’t do.
This kind of response, in every actuality of Christlike faith, we’re all capable of, all the time.
When someone hurts you,
be something more.
When they ignore you,
empathise for their lack of love.
When they yell at you, speak gently and calmly
communicating you’re no threat.
When they leave you out of something,
think about how you might include them.
Even if they sneer at you,
resist both fear or anger.
A strange power embodies us when we continue believing for the best. In not second-guessing the motives of other people, giving them the benefit of any doubt we have, we have a better chance of winning them to self-reflection. There are some who are never won over, however – those who never reciprocate our love – but we need to remind ourselves that our continued grace toward all people is a sign of God’s work in us.
It’s not about us at all, apart from being attuned to being an instrument of God’s love and peace.
But then there are those toxic individuals for which only boundaries will work. If we deem them as unsafe people for us, we may exclude these people from most of our lives. Grace we can therefore afford to extend to them, because we have some control over an otherwise uncontrolled situation.
When we resolve to be something more, we “keep our love on,” we resist insulting them because we were hurt, and we give the relationship space for God’s grace to work between the two of us.
Don’t resort to even the score,
but resolve to be something more;
focus on the good Lord above,
and convert earthly hurt to love.