Last week we explored the necessity for relationships in order for each of us, and mankind, to grow closer to whom we were created to be. We actually considered that the more adverse the relationship, the more we need each other for the opportunity to grow. The harder it is to love another, the more we develop our Mussar skills and mature in our character development. The open question, and challenge, remains – to think about the divisiveness in our world, and our personal interactions that result from such divisions, as a training ground to make closer our walks with each other and with our Abba.
This past week I had the opportunity to take on this challenge. There is another Jewish couple who lives near us in Florida with whom we’ve had some interaction. The husband is actually the organizer of the music jam session which Sid and I love to participate in each week. Although our common faith and music seemingly would be huge bridgebuilders, it had not happened for the four of us. We had been around each other enough to overhear some political conversations and without directly discussing it with the couple, Sid and I knew that he and I were pretty far apart from them on some of the major issues dividing our society today.
Then it happened. I started teaching my Dance Kickboxing class a few weeks ago and the wife of the couple came. It was as if a wall came down. She came over to talk with me after class. We got to know each other beyond the stereotypes and labels and she invited us over to share a meal during Passover.
It was a lovely evening. There was so much to chat about without going into the divisive topics. Then, the wife of the couple put her toe in the water – she made a statement about Israel and Palestine. Granted, there’s still a lot that can go awry between Jews even on that topic. Yet she must have felt we would have some common ground there. And she was right. We were able to tread lightly on a topic that there was a high likelihood the four of us could be at least partway in agreement – let’s go with the importance of the State of Israel!
As the evening ended, they lent us a couple of their favorite movie DVDs (which we thoroughly enjoyed) and we plan to have them at our home in their travels to Maine this summer. How did such a future of possibilities happen between people with what could be and usually are divisive attitudes?
The four of us didn’t lead with our differences. Rather, HaShem opened the door in a non-charged setting, inviting us to try to get to know each other. We accepted the invitation. My prayer is that as we get to know each other over time, that there will be many opportunities to discuss the harder topics too, and I am sure conversation will lead to understanding. As it does we all will grow our “love our neighbor” muscles, and become more understanding of differing viewpoints. Such a wonderful possibility that never would have occurred had we not been willing to try.
We determine based on our world views or experiences who we consider unlovable. Loving the unlovable is hard. Sometimes people’s interactions with us or toward others make them unlovable. Sometimes their life choices are the reasons we don’t want to be around them. Sometimes we feel unloving toward another due to his or her personal convictions. Loving the hard to love is one of our deepest challenges, but perhaps one of the most rewarding not only in learning how to love another, but also, in growing us as children of Him.
I can’t even begin to imagine how unlovable we are to our Abba, not to mention the multitudes of mistakes not only made by us, by our people, and by mankind that we continue to make. The model of His way of unconditionally and forgivingly loving is the one we see repeatedly in Scripture, and was brought to us personally in human form through the exemplary life of Yeshua. He even loved the tax collectors and prostitutes!
It’s not to say we are to agree with opinions we find in opposition to our own, nor to foster unhealthy attitudes. It is to say we are not to judge, but rather, be open to conversation, and love each other through it all. Take on the challenge of loving more the more adverse personality. We will all learn and grow and be surprised at the commonality we actually share, in so many ways, especially when we never lose sight of He who created each and every one of us. In His Image. Truly,WWJD?