We were actually good friends once. We met while volunteering and ended up being involved with another young adult ministry. We invited each other to special events, holiday gatherings, hung out with mutual friends, and even laughed at each other’s jokes. Then there came this season in the friendship where it just seemed like the only time she wanted to hang out or talk to me was when she needed another volunteer or helper at an event. There was no, “Hey, how have you been”, but an immediate, “Can you do this and that?”. It made me feel like she didn’t really appreciate me as a friend, but rather saw me as someone to use for this or that project. When I called her out on it, she didn’t give me an explanation, an apology, or even make effort to keep the friendship going. In fact, we haven’t really been friends since.
That kind of behavior, to me, is terribly annoying and immature, especially considering the years of friendship we shared prior to that disagreement. People can be flippin’ annoying, and in this case, she was flippin’ annoying. There have been many times since that episode, where when the memory of her comes to my mind, I am tempted to be bitter / get into imaginary arguments with her where I always win / imagine her being exposed for the annoyance she has caused me and then all of the world and internet boos her / or somebody throws a tomato at her. But then in the corner of my conscience, I see Jesus looking at me lovingly, not saying anything, yet saying loud and clear:
“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you have a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” (Colossians 3:13).
“Aww Jesus c’mon, why do you want us to be holy all the time? Can’t we be a little Old Testament from time to time?”
I lick my wounds a little more before I decide I want to be forgiven by God for my many sins too. So in spite of how I might feel towards her at that moment, I realize I have the power and ability to take the higher road, to forgive her, to be the kind of person Jesus wants me to be. Namely, like Him, who willingly died for us on the Cross even though we had caused his painful death via our sins. This doesn’t mean that I am saying what she did was right… That somehow it didn’t matter. No, it was still hurtful and offensive. But forgiveness is often about allowing ourselves to be set free, while unforgiveness is like drinking something poisonous, waiting for the other person to die.
Thank Jesus He never said, “Like your neighbor as yourself”. “Liking” someone is subjective. It means you find that person agreeable, enjoyable, or even satisfactory. “Liking” is subjective, emotional, and fluid at best. Of course these feelings can change depending on what kind of a day you had, whether or not you have gas, if that person did or didn’t “like” your recent post on social media, or if they only contacted you when they needed you to do something for them. Oh what a fickle thing it is to like someone. I don’t happen to like the person I had mentioned before, but strangely, I can still love her, and am called to do just that. So to that end, when I’m reminded of what she did to me, I pray that God blesses her, helps her become a saint, and that she doesn’t repeat her past mistakes. In His infinite wisdom, Jesus says, “LOVE your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31). Still very difficult to do, but much more reasonable than liking.