“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” – Mother Teresa
This is one of my favorite Mother Teresa quotes. My heart goes to this quote when I get caught up in myself. Many days it feels like suffering and injustice are inescapable. It’s daunting. It’s infuriating. My heart breaks for those the world has swept under the rug – the marginalized, the discriminated, the exploited.
But some days it’s easy to love the marginalized, right? Who’s heart wouldn’t break when a precious, impoverished child is sharing their toys with you. Everyone’s heart breaks for the discriminated when they welcome you with open arms. Everyone weeps for the exploited when they’re crying out.
But what happens when it’s not so picturesque? When was the last time I wept for the murderers? When did I last bring the traffickers to the Father with my prayers? Am I still compelled to love when I have an exploited woman in front of me, cursing me out? Does my heart still break for the people that hate me? Does my love draw a line?
When the people you’re called to love don’t love you, when the city you’re in doesn’t feel like home, when you’re faced with ignorance and violence and betrayal and manipulation – It’s much easier to pack up your bags and head towards comfort. How many times have I turned away because the people God weeps for didn’t make me feel good? Because they don’t treat me the way I want them to? Because they don’t act the way I want them to? Because it doesn’t work out the way I planned?
That’s not what we’re called to be, though, is it? We are not called to withhold love.
Who am I, that a relentlessly loved and forgiven sinner such as myself, should have the audacity to offer conditional love to those the Father’s heart weeps for the most? We are called to love unconditionally – to the hurting and the hurtful. The beautiful and the ugly. The kind and the spiteful. The wise and the ignorant. The survivors and the terrorists. The exploited and the exploiter.
I’m convicted today. It’s easy to lose my temper when I see injustice. It’s easy for me to point the finger. It’s easy to swear off loving a person because they don’t deserve it. News flash – I don’t deserve it. The great irony of my life is that I’m named Grace, but sometimes grace is the most challenging thing for me to extend to others. I’m conditional. I’m judgmental. I’m harsh. And yet, John 1:16 says “from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.”
Today I’m forced to sit back and look at this big, beautiful, messy family we’re a part of – the children of God. We fight for one another. We pray for one another. We yell. We push. We struggle. We hurt one another. Some days we laugh and sing and pray together. Some days we scream and fight and cry and exclude, but the Father always brings us back. He sits us at the table, oftentimes across from the ones that hurt us the most. Our flesh urges us, “run.” The Holy Spirit says “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another (Jn 13:34).” We take hands, we bow our heads, and we pray. This is the Good News. We belong to each other.
After years of serving with her parents at a Project Rescue affiliated site in Southern Asia, Grace is now serving as a summer intern in the US Project Rescue Administrative Office