Why is it so much easier to criticize than to love?
To judge than offer mercy? Find fault instead of seek intent?
Why are we more eager to defend than forgive?
Control than trust? Speak than listen?
More determined to be right than just?
I don’t have the answer, but I think part of it lies in understanding just how much we’re loved.
We live in a culture quick to categorize, label, include, exclude, separate, and name, and while that isn’t always wrong, it often isn’t right.
We’re quick to offer our opinions based on nothing more than snapshot information, a few sentences or a status update, without engaging in discussion, or asking a question, or pausing to pray. Why?
I wonder sometimes if it’s because we’re too busy? Skimming the surface of a hundred different things, instead of savoring a few. But that seems like the easy answer, because busyness is actually a choice. Hard, yes, but still a choice, which means that truth lies closer to selfishness — choosing to live in thirty-second ad spots, because to know, to ask and then listen another’s story requires time, sacrificing our own agendas, stepping back from tireless to-do lists, pausing our busyness for another.
And that’s where the pretty façade gets ripped off of our clean, suburban lives to reveal the messy truth – that life this side of Heaven is hard. But truth is where hearts connect and people matter. Truth, honest and vulnerable, is the GOOD stuff of life, the important stuff, the treasure, sweet and rare.
When we look beyond the façade and listen through the cursory words, a heart begins to emerge, and the “other,” the one we’re so quick to judge, becomes a living, breathing soul like us, and it’s suddenly a little harder to fault, a little harder to criticize, a little harder to label “other.”
I asked my daughters what they think it means to love – not those who love us back, but those who don’t; not those who can’t, but those who won’t.
“It means the other person wins,” one daughter answered, words that slice to the core of Christianity, because this life isn’t a stand off, me against you, an eye for an eye, one hurt justifying another. In Christ, we’re called to something more. We’re called to “love our enemies, and do good…expecting nothing in return.” Luke 6:35
So I wonder what would happen if we occasionally pushed pause, looked another in the eye, and asked how they were doing, not in passing, but over a cup of coffee, not hurriedly, but intentionally. Would we still be so quick to judge, label, gather in, push out, or hurt each other? Or might we learn to love as we’ve been loved, deeply and from the heart?
I don’t have the answer, but it’s something I’m pausing to think about this Lenten season as I reflect on the One who gave it ALL for me.