LOVING FOR THE LONG HAUL

News flash: loving people is hard. Now, I’m not talking about loving people in general. You can care for people, pray for people, serve people, and love everyone (for the most part) pretty easily. It gets difficult when people hurt you, neglect you, or let you down. I’m a long-term kind of gal. I’ve had two boyfriends my whole life, the same best friend for a decade, and many of my other friends have been around for years (and years to come). Because of this, I’ve been tested and I’m sure I’ve tested others. I’ve been cruel when there was no need, I’ve hurt people that love me—in the exact same way that others have hurt me. I know what you probably thought by this title— “she’s not even married yet and she’s going to start talking about loving long-term!?” Yes, I am. Just maybe not in the way that you might think…

I met my best friend in the fourth grade. Flash forward to the sixth grade and we have both joined the speech and drama team. We were casual friends by this point and quickly growing closer. By our seventh-grade year, we were inseparable at every speech and drama competition and play practice—we were literally a package deal. By the time we entered high school, she had become a part of my family. Her title moved from “friend” to “sister.” Although we had a million interests and hobbies in common (from theatre to history to English literature), we had one that truly made us so dang close—Jesus. She had started coming to church with me in middle school and ended up following me and my family to a new church in high school and never left my side. We prayed together, we cried together, we celebrated together. Throughout high school, we were each other’s warriors. We fought for each other, hyped each other up, and loved one another so so much. People often didn’t know one of us without the other.

Despite all of the show tunes and choir numbers that we sang, we did get into arguments. I honestly don’t remember what a single one of them was about, but I assure you we were angry. I even think one caused us to not talk for a couple of days (which was a big deal). We both said awful things to each other at various points in our friendship—probably multiple times. But we had something inside the both of us that wasn’t going to set down a wonderful friendship just because we were mad for a second. Maybe we were a little bit more mature than other high school girls or maybe we just knew what was important: a friend that, at the end of the day, pushed you to be better and prayed with and for you.

In college, though, life got “busy.” I threw myself so deeply into my work and school that I didn’t have time for anyone—not even myself. Our friendship kind of took the backseat and things got a little tense. We ended up studying abroad together in London for two weeks (our DREAM) and alllll of our problems came out on day one. We fought for about 15 minutes and then she simply said, “I’m sorry, can we be friends again?” But that one simple question really threw me. For an entire year, her and I had an estranged relationship… for what reason!? I realized what actually mattered after that trip was the people who have stood by you no matter what season of life you were in, no matter what your struggles were.

So, you guys, the key in loving people long-term isn’t always about communication and compromise (although those are major requirements), sometimes it’s just about looking at someone and remembering why God brought them into your life. You’re going to disagree with the way someone else thinks. You’re going to say something you wish you hadn’t. You’re going to forget an important date—it happens. But Jesus asked us to do one important job— “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins,” (1 Peter 4:8). Love isn’t always the choice you want to make—but if that person really means so much to you, lay down your sword and choose not to fight.

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