You know that phrase “In spite of”? I’ve been thinking on it recently and I’ve found some interesting things about it.
I was talking to my aunt the other day, and we were discussing the love we can have for people. The depths of our lives. Everybody has been through something. Everybody has skeletons in their closets. And yet, somehow people still love us. In the same way, somehow we still love others? How is this possible?
You know, when we bare our skeletons to people, it’s terrifying and vulnerable and yet sometimes we can’t help it because we trust the person we are speaking with. For some people this is harder than others, but for me, I like to be real. Of course, there is a time and a place that it’s appropriate and not appropriate for, and there are private things about us that only very select people should hear. But besides that, as I grow to love people, I expose more and more of my soul to them. Almost as a challenge saying “I’ve done this, or I am this, are you still going to love me just as much? Am I wrong about you?” “I have messed up here, worse than you knew, are you still going to dare to stay?” The good ones stay.
If we go ahead and flip that around, I have the same choice when people bare their souls to me. And yet, when I hear about the pain and grief and mistakes my friends have been through and come out the other side of, and how I can see that it’s changed who they are and God has used it for good… Friends, I don’t love people in spite of their failures… I’d venture to say I love them more because of them.
That’s not to say I wouldn’t love my friends if they were perfect. I personally believe my friends are perfect, but of course that’s not humanly possible. In my own flawed way of explaining, I love my friends because those stories and those experiences and those mistakes and those scars are part of who they are. And I love who they are.
When we say “in spite of,” the Oxford Dictionary states the definition as: “Not being effected by the particular factor mentioned.” Oh, let me tell you, it certainly is effected by the factors mentioned. But sometimes love requires us to look beyond the shortcomings of those around us and calls us to love them in spite of them. Be it because they are family or spouse, or friend, or simply a person God has called us as Christians to have grace upon and to love.
Sometimes, there is pain that comes between people that effects both parties. Sometimes those shortcomings hurt. So in that situation, would it be in spite of? Sometimes, the relationship is “worth it.” Sometimes the person on the other side of the relationship is worth making things work and cleaning up messes and forgiving. Sometimes it’s because of our love for them as our friends and family, and sometimes it’s our love for them by the grace of Jesus.
And yet… I have found people that I love because of their short comings. Not to say I wouldn’t love them without them, but I love them more in those trying times, or after learning certain painful facts about them. Because where there is much forgiven there is much love. But oh how much love you can have for a person, not in spite of, but because of their humanity. Because they are flawed, like you. Because they have struggles and trials and hard days and dirty days and broken moments crying out to God and all you want to do is pray your heart out for that person and do everything you can to protect them from that ever happening again because you love them. Because they’re just like you.
Friends… maybe find someone who will love you with your flaws? Not in spite of them? Find someone who will love the entirety of you, not the little bits of you that make the rest of you worth putting up with.
I was reading The Lost Melody recently, and there was a point that I wanted to share that got me thinking about this particular topic. Spoiler alert for those of you planning to read this book. Scroll down to the next heading.
“‘What of our future? All those things you said? We can’t have those things if…’The Lost Melody – Joanna Politano
He stood for a moment before answering. ‘You’ve always had your eccentricities, but I overlooked those for the good traits—your sensible, decent ways. Intelligence. Passion. You were a woman I could respect.’ He shook his head. ‘I’m beginning to realize I shouldn’t have written off [the] quirks.’”
This little sentence completely destroys any self confidence Vivi has in herself and she begins to doubt her own sanity, because the one person she loved had put doubts into her head. But later in the book this happens while she’s playing the piano and one of the closed in characters at the asylum are brought to her.
“[Violet’s] hands, now completely free, felt about frantically. Then she yanked loose and sprang forward, pounding on the keys. It was chaos… but with a sure tempo—every strike.The Lost Melody – Joanna Politano
A nurse and two orderlies rushed forward to pull her away and I shook my head. ‘Oh please, let her do it.’ I added a lower melody to the beat of her banging.
Dr. Turner bent towards me, hands on the girl’s shoulders. ‘You don’t mind?’ His voice rang with the depth of his emotion.
I paused and smiled up at them. ‘If I did, I’d be missing the point entirely.’
The way he looked at me then, with a tender kinship and unguarded affection, swept the last thing into place. He saw me, he heard the music—my music. His affection was borne of ‘because of’ rather than ‘in spite of’ and it was bigger than a tidal wave.
I could hardly breathe, sitting there in the glow of his admiration…”
What is my point?
Now I understand that Vivienne’s supposed “flaw” wasn’t a flaw at all, and yet it was seen as one. And I’ve taken it a step further and to say that we can be the same about our flaws and shortcomings. The grace of our Jesus spills over and allows us to love as fully because of those things. Because those things are part of who we are.
I am not saying this to ask people to love me for my failures. Not at all. I have a hard time forgiving myself for my shortcomings. But I have sat down before breakfast today to write to you as my friend, as my reader. That you should have people in your life that love you for YOU, and not in spite of who you are. You deserve to be loved because you are a Child of God, and you deserve a full and devoted and genuine love. A love that supports and adores you for who already are, rather than dealing with you now for who you will be one day when you’re healed, when you’re better, when you get yourself together, when you put more effort into whatever it is you’re working on and prove yourself. You deserve to be loved now. Because it’s Christ that works in you, and nothing you can do yourself will change you if Jesus is not there. So then, find people that will encourage and help you grow, but love you with absolute devotion for who you are in this stage of your life.
I know this love is possible because this is how I love my friend, and how my friends love me. I’m not saying I am the perfect example, and I’m not even saying you should take my word for it. Read your Bible. How did Jesus love those around Him? He forgave their sins, but He loved them before the sicknesses were healed. While we were yet sinners Christ died for us. We should seek to love as He loves, and we should know that as His children, we are worth that same depth of love.
Don’t be narcissistic and insist people accept your snobby selfish attitude. That’s not the goal of this post. I wanted to show you, friends, that no matter what sort of lies the devil puts in your head about your self worth or your value, you must remember you are worth more than many sparrows. That the Father knows the number of hairs on your head, and that you are worth loving. Because of who you are in Christ, you are worth loving. He loves you broken as you are, not in spite of, but… because of your brokenness. He gets to come in and wash you clean and help you heal and repair those places better than they have ever been before. Your Jesus loves you so much because He sees who you are today and He died for you while you were yet a sinner. And He is ready to bless you and heal you. Because of love.
It’s all because of love.