Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Familiarity Breeds Contempt

Luke 6:32 "For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them."

We all know that loving our enemies is crucially important. It is hard to love those who annoy us whenever we see them, or those who have a lot of needs they want us to meet, or those who are for all practical purposes unlovable. Yes, for us humans the unlovable exist.

Probably we all feel that twinge of guilt when we're unfriendly to a stranger or to that needy neighbor. "I shouldn't have done that..." we all say to ourselves. Sometimes we're given the chance to remedy that by keeping love at the forefront of our minds when we see them again, or, as is the case with the stranger, we try to make a conscious effort the next time to care.

Putting aside all discussion of love and like (we can love those we don't like), another thought came to me.

Do we really love those who love us?

At times being near someone makes us feel we have license to be cruel or to ignore them. A joke that goes too far or maybe an angry word when they interrupt our "me" time. Rolling our eyes when they come to us with the same problem again and we can't muster up the ability to even pretend to listen. Or maybe they need a word of encouragement or admonishment and we don't want to give it because they're being needy, annoying or dramatic like a soap opera character.

At times even those who love us drive us batty, and sometimes it's even worse than those we dislike.

It could be that those we love and to whom we are close know how --exactly how-- to press our buttons. Or maybe we don't have boundaries with them because, well, we love them, too and want them to share their feelings with us.

It's those who love us that sometimes we hate or ignore more. They can do more to hurt us, and they can demand more of us. We're their friends, family, housemates, close colleagues.

While certainly we need to love those who don't love us, we also need to make sure we're loving those who love us.

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