Have you ever done something (and/or many things) for someone and they turned around and complained that, although you did A-Z (that's assuming they even acknowledge A-Z) they wanted a little more of Y, and "Why-oh-why didn't you do Y?!" They claim you must not love them. Don't care enough for them. And on and on their complaints run, not just to you, but into the ears of others.
Do any of you have people like that in your lives? (I'm talking about adults, not children. E-hem.)
Well, I do.
These are folks who hurt me. They hurt me so much, I'd rather not have them in my life. But I have no choice because they are . . . FAMILY.
Ever since cancer, my tolerance level has shrunk significantly, and I'm also running low on patience. These people don't care about me and what I need or want. I discovered this during cancer. Even when they were faced with my life-and-death situation, they couldn't see past their own needy selves. Discovering their lack of "love" was really quite devastating to say the least.
So, I cried out to God, "What do I do? How do I handle these people who don't know how to love?"
That's when God revealed His answer to me through His Word. It was pretty simple, really. I mean think about it. When Jesus died on the cross for our sins it was "while we were still sinners."
"God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
God loves us despite the fact that we can't give enough of anything in return. This made me realize that every time I was doing something for my family member(s) and not getting something in return (even if I had a "right" to it because we are family, after all), I wasn't really loving them. I wasn't loving in the true sense of the word because I had expectations.
1 Corinthians 13:5 says love is not "self-seeking." Translation: love is not "selfish."
Was it selfish of me to expect to be treated with kindness and gentleness while I was pretty much dying? No. That wasn't selfish. What's selfish is the fact that when I got better, I realized that these individuals simply didn't have the capability to love me the way they "should" and that made me MAD. That made me want them OUT OF MY LIFE. Why put up with someone who truly doesn't care? Seriously. The easy way out would be to simply cut them off. After all, don't they deserve it if they kicked me while I was down?
So . . . the next question is, why was I loving them? Why did I do good things for them when they needed it? Why was I there? Why did I bend over backwards, inside out and upside down to make them happy? It was because I loved them. And naturally, I "expected" to be loved back. I had EXPECTATIONS. If I do A, B, and C, they will do X, Y, and Z.
Ladies, that was selfishness. Even if I "deserved" X, Y, Z, it was selfish to "love" them, expecting the same in return. It's natural to have expectations, but it's not always going to happen. Even if we have a "right" to them. Think about it. Didn't we kick Jesus while He was down? Didn't man hurl insults at Him while He was nailed to that cross? Didn't we re-crucify Him every time we chose to sin?
That's when I realized I had to release any and all expectations from these individuals, and simply love them for God's sake. Love them so they could discover what love truly is. Love them the way Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us, sacrificed Himself for us. I need to demonstrate that same kind of love, whether these folks deserve it or not. After all, none of us deserved God's love. Not one bit. And yet, He sacrificed His one and only Son. I wouldn't sacrifice my child for anyone, not even the best person on the planet. Yet, God sacrificed His child for the worst of us.
That tells me that I need to still love these folks. Do I always enjoy it? No. That's when I have to PRAY my heart out for God to help me see them through His eyes. And to remember He died as much for them as He died for me. He loves them as much as He loves me! He wants me to love them as He would. And I pray for Him to give me the strength to do it. I simply can't do it without Him.
It helps to have no expectations from these individuals because now when they DO do something nice, thoughtful or kind, it's a pleasant surprise. But . . . I still don't expect it even after they've given back a little. Nope. No more expectations. I no longer look for it. I do still struggle with it at times, and that's when I pray and simply do my best to shine my light. To pray for them. And forgive them even when they don't ask for it.
Lord willing, one day they'll come around to fully loving God, not me, but GOD. But that's not an expectation. It's a prayer.
Luke 6:35 "But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked."