Saturday night I was talking to a friend of mine; not just an ordinary friend, but one of those rare humans that you can say anything to. No matter what I reveal about myself, she still gazes at me with large, wondrous eyes which somehow always manage to be filled with delight and sheer pleasure at being in my company. She is also astonishingly honest and insightful.
I was telling her that I was having trouble relating to someone and I didn't know why. Every time I get around this other person I figuratively and sometimes literally, stand there with my mouth open and shake my head, wondering why they do the things they do. Their behaviour, language and mannerisms just seem so odd to me, and I know the lack of understanding on my part is not helping the relationship any. Sometimes I feel guilty about my thoughts, like they are bordering on judgments. Other times I think I am discerning some issues that might be under the surface. Some of my reactions resemble pettiness and bitterness (it pains me to admit - ouch) while on some occasions I pray for this person with great compassion and clarity. It is all so muddled, this deep desire to embrace others and this small-minded insistence that they conform to some arbitrary level of sensibility that I have established, that I cannot see or think straight about it.
My friend stopped me short in my confession/justification speech and said, "Is it about relating to people or is it about loving people?" See, I had no answer for that. She just sliced to the heart of the matter. I cannot relate to everyone. I never will. So what? Jesus asks me to enlarge my heart to love. As soon as my friend uttered the "L" word, I could sense Jesus tugging at my heart, asking me to let the "others" in, the ones not like me, the ones I don't "get." Insisting that I understand and relate to people before I love them is just a feeble excuse to keep them out of my life. Love has no conditions like this. Love just loves.
This is Dean and myself walking along the beach in Cuba, relating and loving in the same moment. Stupendous!