Based on the thoughts I surfaced in a recent post (and elsewhere) regarding what I see as God’s call to Unconditional Love, I’ve had several folks ask me questions along the lines of “Does that mean I have to love the person who [abused or hurt or seeks to control] me?”
Let’s answer this one carefully.
Love them? Yes.
Have a relationship with them? Well, that question requires a nuanced answer…
To begin with, let’s make one thing clear: Love and Relationship are not the same thing. We can choose to love another, even if the relationship we have with them is nonexistent (or nearly so). Loving another means building a bridge between another and you, opening a door to a better future, a better relationship. But just because that bridge exists does not mean you have to cross it, or that they will cross it, and you certainly should not cross it all the way to the other side!
Relationship is a two-way street. A relationship will exist in some form – after all, relationship is part of the very fabric of our existence. So, you do have relationships with others, all others. However, the extent and quality of that relationship is attenuated by the limitations we bring to the table. Love makes it possible to have a better quality and more balanced relationship with another, but only if they are willing and able to return that love. Love enables you to get to the midpoint of the bridge, but it is up to the other as to whether they’ll meet you halfway, or not.