God created us to be in community and in relationship with others. But that does not mean it will always be easy. Being part of human relationships also challenges us to love others unconditionally, just as we are loved by God. When you and I are in relationship with another, our ability to show love, patience, understanding, compassion, and mercy is put to the test.
You and I can never love one another to the extent that God loves us. We can, however, strive to be more understanding and giving in our love to others as we seek to work together with them in being family. We are family together when we are able to speak openly and lovingly about those things that annoy us.
We can help the “offender” see things from our perspective. Realizing that no one is perfect—even me or you—offers us the opportunity to ask our loved ones what it is in our behavior that makes their life miserable, and then offer to work on changing it! We should thank God for blessing us with the gift of a family that loves us so deeply, and for their willingness to tolerate our annoying habits.
This message was adapted from “You Gotta Love ‘Em” written by Kathie Bender Schwich that first appeared in the March 2011 issue of Lutheran Woman Today (now Gather) magazine. Today begins Kwanzaa, an annual celebration of African-American culture held from December 26 to January 1.