Saturday, February 11, 2017

How to Love the Hard-Hearted

Dear Friends,
You know what? Love can melt a heart of granite. Have you seen it? Hard times sometimes harden people. Some tragedy happened to them or someone they love.
The pain is unbearable. They swear they will never hurt again so they cement all their soft and vulnerable places. They put on a sour face as a camouflage to keep anyone from coming closer. In keeping people out, they have to notice they've locked themselves in. They are lonely. Afraid to risk the company of fellow humans, they try to find companionship from other sources: alcohol, a hobby, television, the internet, pornography, books, or any number of inanimates. Those things can only do so much. There you stand on the periphery of their life. You smile and they turn away, determined not to make a connection. You keep smiling and making friendly gestures. They may become irritated because you are chipping away at that concrete ever so slightly. It was easier to be left alone, but the yearning to be cared for is knocking the scab off some sore heart-places they convinced themselves were fully healed. Your gentleness continues. They become suspicious. You must have some dastardly ulterior motive. Nobody is that nice for no reason. They want to avoid you. The deeper the hurt, the fiercer the fight to keep you away. They may not even know they secretly hope you won't give up on them. For some, the language of love is so foreign they don't even recognize it. It doesn't matter. Keep speaking it in your unique way anyway.

 Then comes your big chance: they find themselves in need and you step in and meet it. I don't mean with just money. Sometimes the need is an acknowledgment of how hard it is to be in their shoes. Sometimes it's a gesture that says you noticed something out of the ordinary was going on and you wanted to reach out. Do not underestimate the power of this. People feel invisible in this culture and saying you noticed ________ tells them they are not alone or invisible. It's the kind of love that melts walls built up for years.

Sometimes the melting is more like an erosion that's here a little and there a little. Don't grow impatient with the process. It's the way relationships are built anyway. Sometimes I think we get in such a hurry to seal the deal with a "profession of faith" or  "one more soul snatched from the fires of Hell" that we forget these are real
people who get just as weirded out as you or I would with tactics that try to rush things. Some will profess whatever you want just to get you out of their face. I've seen it happen. No, I believe there is a better way: be a friend, genuinely care and let the Holy Spirit build a case for falling in love with the Son.

Don't complicate it by straining to be what you can't. God is asking you to do and be what you can through Him. Get yourself out of the way and it goes much smoother (experience talking here).

You likely already have a person in mind who is so encrusted with that cement they can barely move their lips to crack a smile. Your first assignment is always to pray for them. Then let God decide when your practical part in their story begins. I would love to hear if you have a concrete-cracking or mountain-melting story to share. It doesn't have to be dramatic. Oftentimes the deepest work is done in the quietest settings; sometimes so subtle you don't see it at first.

Time for bed. Goodnight, My Friends. May God use you to break through someone's pain in such a way you'll beg Him to use you to do it again! 

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