“I hope I’m not becoming a misanthrope” I sighed to my friend, *Janice, on a Tuesday evening. We were relaxing in her cozy, 10th floor apartment after a dinner of hard shell tacos. I explained that people are irritating me to the extreme lately and I didn’t want to become closed off to others.
Lately, I’ve grown to empathize with cranky and cantankerous characters like All in the Family Archie Bunker or The Grinch. Each time I venture out into the open world, I grow frustrated with abrasive New Yorkers shoving past me with so much as an “excuse me” to cram into an overcrowded city bus (I admit, I may have too high expectations of NYC dwellers in terms of courtesy and politeness). I clench my hands into fists while waiting in line at Mc’donalds while an indecisive customer decides to play 50 questions with the cashier. I give my scariest evil eye to the lady at the restaurant who is playing an obnoxious video on her phone at maximum volume (This also happens on NYC buses ; newsflash there’s this nifty little invention called headphones)
What’s bothering me is that my specific prayer, recently, is for God to cultivate a love like Jesus. A pure, sacrificial, no barriers and complete love.
Instead the mere existence of the human species vexes me to the point I want to pull an Emily Dickinson; shut myself off from humanity and continually churn out novels from the refuge of my bedroom.
Yet God gave this one commandment in Matthew 22:38 that admittedly causes me great angst ; Love your neighbor as yourself”.
Lord why are 90% (a guestimate) my neighbors so darn unlovable.
Of course I am not 100% lovable myself. Stated at the beginning of this piece, my misanthropic tendencies are growing faster than weeds in a field. I shy away from conversations, connections and can be downright standoffish to others. My therapist and I have talked through childhood learnings that contributed to my behaviors. However, as a child of God I am called to the highest standard (which I sometimes throw tantrums at). I often wonder why “God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten son” (John 3:16). Yes, the world. Not just Christians. Not just my parents. Not just my brother. Not just my aunts, uncles, cousins and my cozy network of close friends. God loves everyone.
And as much as love is a struggle for me, I must love everyone too.
This sunday at church, a young woman talked about how Jesus wept for humanity. She used a term that I mentally kicked myself for not coming up with on my own “We need to sow tears for humanity”. She discussed loving without barriers, limits and expectations. The sermon hit me with a proverbial arrow to the heart and I realized my heart needed God to perform major surgery.
For this summer I’ve decided to give this “love without limits” thingy a try with the expectation that it becomes part of my DNA makeup. I want to bleed 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8. To live out 1 John 3:16 “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters” (New International Version).
Most of all, I want to love like Jesus. Unconditional and without limits. A sacrificial love.