Loving others isn’t always warm and fuzzy. Sometimes loving others means being willing to call them out on the stuff that they either don’t know or that they are in denial of. You’ve heard the phrase “cruel to be kind”. That’s just what love looks like sometimes. I remember watching a nature show where a man had nursed a bear back to health after finding him half dead in a bear trap. The bear had come to trust the man so much and he knew that the bear had lost his natural fear of man and this put him in grave danger. He had to make the bear afraid of him to give the bear a fighting chance at life.
This is similar to what we need to do with others at times. Some lessons are painful to learn, but without them we would not be able to make it in this world. We have to be willing to let our loved ones fall and fail once in a while to learn how to survive and to thrive. Being a co-dependent, enabler most of my life has made this a difficult lesson for me to learn. When I swoop in every time someone has a need it teaches them dependence on me. While this feels good temporarily it takes away their self-respect and they come to rely on others to always take care of them instead of being responsible for themselves. Ultimately, this is not for their good or my good. They become unable to care for themselves and I become resentful and worn out, unable to be of use to anyone.
I remember some of the people God placed in my life that chose to love me by confronting me on my behavior. My foster Mom, my husband, my aunt Sis are just a few of the people who God used to shock me out of my self-destructive behavior. My foster Mom was willing to show me love me by setting healthy boundaries and teaching me how to treat others. When I moved in with her after being abused by my family, she allowed me a time of adjustment, but then she made it clear that if my behavior didn’t change I would have to go to a new home. My husband stood by me for a long time, probably longer than he should have, but finally he left me know that my behavior needed to change or the marriage could end. My Aunt Sis also confronted me about the way I was treating her after she allowed me to move into her home to get away from an abusive relationship. She finally told me I needed to move out of her home.
Each one of these people had a hand in helping me become who I am today. I am a hard-working, responsible, loving woman, who doesn’t depend on others to give me everything or allow me to do whatever I want, when I want. These were painful lessons to learn at the time, but so invaluable to me and I can’t help but be thankful that they were willing to love me by being tough and risking losing me.
Sometimes tough love is what we need most.
Who do you need to confront in love today? Who has confronted you in the past and changed the course of your life?