Love is a many splintered thing.

I heard a radio pastor say that. I thought is was catchy. I was pondering some questions concerning love when he came on. He promised to talk about love, and how it’s not easy. I hoped that he would address my specific concern. He didn’t. In fact, he said nothing profound…at all.

We live in a world that indoctrinates us early that we deserve to be treated a certain way. Hey, people owe us! And if someone doesn’t treat us the way we want to be treated, we “humph” and walk away. That’s just good self-esteem.

But Jesus made it very clear that if we are to love the way He loves, we must relinquish our “rights.” We are to love humbly. He called us to forgive endlessly. Jesus, as our example, never withholds love from us, even when we reject him. In fact, His kindness pursues us.

If I could go back in history and witness any moment, I would want to see the look in Jesus’ eyes when He saw Peter after he had betrayed Him. In that moment, I think I would see everything I ever needed to know about how to love. Jesus had a legitimate claim that He didn’t deserve to be treated so badly. No human has been betrayed the way Christ was in those final hours. I don’t know what that gaze looked like, but I know what it didn’t look like. There was no condemnation, no pride, no disappointment at unmet expectation. There was no “humph” in His eyes.

I don’t know how to love that way. My nature is fiercely loyal. I have been walked away from more than my fair share, and I don’t want anyone to ever feel those feelings because of me. But I am inundated with “hey, if you’re not getting what you need out of the relationship, walk away.”

Is there room in love for self-respect? Or is love, by definition, too crowded by humility and forgiveness?

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