Have you ever felt slighted or cheated? Have you ever come across a situation that felt like you got the short end of the stick or were treated unfairly? Did you desire justice? Despite your best efforts to come to a peaceable resolution, have you found yourself frustrated and wondering how you lost out? We all have.
Recently I felt the same way. Despite my efforts to bring about peace and harmony, I was left out in the cold. I had two main emotions that ran rampant: sadness and anger. I was sad and hurt that there was no peace, sad that I felt wronged and cheated. I was angry that despite my efforts the situation at hand didn’t get any better. I was mad that I felt like I’d bent over backwards only to be metaphorically slapped in the face. I didn’t want revenge, I merely wanted what was just, a fair resolution to the situation. Instead I was met with none, which only served to pour salt in my open wounds.
As I osculated back and forth between hurt (crying) and anger, I was reminded that love (or even my best effort) is not an investment. As I fumed about how this person and situation left me feeling wronged, I asked myself how God would love in a situation like this. You could even call it a “WWJD” moment. The answer, in all honesty, infuriated me. God would love anyway. I was infuriated because, despite knowing that God would love anyway, I still wanted justice, I wanted what was due and I wanted it now, not on God’s time table.
So I thought about it from another angle: how does God show me love? Goodness knows I’m not always just with Him. I sin and turn away from Him, yet His love remains. God didn’t (and doesn’t) love me anymore than He loved the other person in the situation. God doesn’t play favorites. God didn’t love Mother Teresa more than He loves me, He just loves, without question and without hesitation. In this situation God wasn’t going to side with me if I prayed an extra rosary or offered Mass for this person. All He was going to do was what He had been doing all along: teaching me to love as He does, and giving me ample opportunities to put that love into practice.
Love isn’t an investment. Loving someone doesn’t make them loveable. What makes people loveable is the fact that God loves them first. People may not respect or care about God, but He loves them anyway. The reality is that even if we feel slighted, God
probably has even more reason to think so, and He loves us despite the myriad of reasons not to (a.k.a. our sins). So it is that we come back to the age-old lesson (because we don’t fully understand it, nor do we live it out perfectly yet): We love because He first loved us. If He doesn’t withhold His love from us, who are we to deny love to each other? It isn’t easy, but nothing good in life is. Instead we cling to the strength of the cross and learn how to love anyway, despite injustice, despite being cheated or slapped in the face. We love anyway.