Friday, October 18, 2019

Devotionals for the Heart: A Challenge to love people even when it's not easy

Loving When It’s Hard

A devotional by Victoria Bylin

“Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” 
– 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NASB)

I work part-time as a receptionist in a large behavioral health practice. 

Every day, I come face-to-face with people in the throes of clinical anxiety, the pain of depression, and a myriad of other thought patterns that cause difficulty and mental suffering. This isn’t an easy place to work, but I wouldn’t trade a minute of the experience. 

I’ve learned a lot here, particularly what it means to be “Jesus with skin on.”

I’m so far from that goal that’s it’s embarrassing, but my word for this year (2019) is "Love."

We use the word "love" so freely and so often that it threatens to become meaningless. We love lasagna and we love our kids. We love our family and friends, but it’s not nearly as easy to love people who aren’t easy to be around. How about the older person fumbling with their phone while trying to add an appointment to the calendar that is somehow locked on the wrong year? That would be me!

Or what about the mother whose worry for her child comes out in misplaced anger? It can be hard to take, but what’s really happening? When her child is suffering, the mother bear in her comes out, and sometimes the claws are sharp.

When I leave work, my frustration is sometimes sky high, a reminder of just how human I am. I’m so grateful for God’s forgiveness for my own failings. We’ve all fallen short—all been that demanding person—and it’s that awareness that reminds of how great God’s love is for us.

I’m not advocating being a doormat. Loving difficult people doesn’t mean we let them run rough shod over the circumstances. Sometimes love demands firmness and even fierceness. The person who takes cuts in the line still needs to wait. But we can all be kind while we live, work and care for others.

Here’s the bottom line:
We don’t know what that difficult person is experiencing. That lesson was driven home to me when I worked in a dermatology office. A woman came in with her teenage daughter for a new patient appointment. It was prom season, and the daughter’s acne was flaring badly. It was a busy practice, and they had waited several weeks for that slot.

Mom charged through the waiting room with her phone pressed to her ear, tapped on the glass window, then opened it. In short, she broke every rule of doctor’s office etiquette, and I was judging her left and right. Forcing a smile, I did my job.

As she fumbled with her insurance card, this is what she said into her phone: “Yes, I heard you. Tell mom I’ll be there as soon as I can. The ICU on the second floor. Yes . . . Yes . . . Tell dad I love him.” Her voice cracked, and so did my heart.

We don’t know what others are dealing with. We can’t see below the surface. But God knows, and he loves us. It’s a privilege to extend that love as best as I can.

Author Bio:
Victoria Bylin is the author of 18 traditionally published romances. Known for tackling difficult subjects with great compassion, she delights in stories that shine the spotlight of God’s love on ordinary men and women facing realistic challenges. 

Writing has always been a part of Victoria’s life. As a child, she wrote hundreds of letters and scribbled in journals. As an adult, she worked as a freelance journalist and editor before taking on the challenge of fiction.

She had one goal when she started her first novel: to finish a book-length manuscript, good or bad. That first effort will never see the light of day, but it led to a second manuscript and a sale to Harlequin Historical. Since then, she has written westerns and contemporary romances for both mainstream and Christian publishers, with Together With You winning the 2016 Inspirational Readers Choice Award for Best Contemporary.

Writing is a joy and a challenge for Victoria, but faith, friends and family matter to her far more. She’s a wife, mom, proud grandmother, and a dog-mom to a wacky Jack Russell Terrier. Originally from California, she and her husband currently make their home in Lexington, Kentucky. When she’s not writing, Victoria enjoys long walks, travel, and dark chocolate.

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