Love the one you’re with

Nope, this is not a 60’s flashback. My apologies to Stephen Stills and to you for the song now playing in your mind. I haven’t completely lost mine. Though it occasionally wanders off on its own when left without adult supervision.

Actually, I am rather referencing the second great commandment as Jesus gave us in Matthew 22:36-40

36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

Amazing in its simplicity. Not nearly as easy as it sounds.

A little over twenty years ago, while attending Freshman’s parent orientation at Catholic High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, I picked up a bit of wisdom from the featured speaker that has resonated through me constantly throughout my days since.  The speaker was Lou Holtz, once the football coach at Notre Dame and Arkansas among others.  Lou has always impressed me as a man to listen to when he speaks. The address to this auditorium of eager parents did not disappoint. He said many things that day that would leave a lasting impression on many of those in attendance.

Probably the most profound thing that he shared was this. Talking specifically about some of the difficulties involved in turning his players from growing, testosterone-driven athletes into teachable young men of purpose. Lou’s pungent point was simply, “Those who need love the most, usually deserve love the least.” From that moment forth I will always lend an ear when that wise old football coach speaks, hoping to glean another bit of an inspiring life-lesson.

It is easy to love your spouse (most of the time) because you share so many happy times. The same is true of the people at work who, along with you, band together to triumph over the dilemma-of-the-day. Those with whom you share church services, singing songs of praise; my heart swells just looking at the angelic faces. Jesus knew that we were easily capable of this type of love.

I believe that Jesus and Lou were both speaking about the guy who cut you off in traffic and then took up two spaces in the parking lot you both turned into. Maybe it is the lady behind you in the lunch-time line at the bank who is having a meltdown about how horrible her day is and feels that it is her duty and right to make every individual she comes into contact with as miserable as she is. It is the homeless guy standing in front of McDonalds or the kid down the street practicing the bagpipes, sounding like he is killing the golden goose.

It isn’t always easy! If it was everyone would do it. I think we should challenge ourselves to share kindness with every person with whom we come in contact. It may take prayer and it will be difficult some days. The results will be more pleasing than not and, I promise, every day it will get to be easier and your day will be better. Less anxiety-filled.

We must see others through the eyes of the Savior. We were all created in the same manner. He loves us all the same. He favors us all. When we make the effort to love the one we are with, not superficial love, nor romantic love but the unconditional Love of Jesus Christ, we will change lives. I have. Maybe the largest change is the one in my own life.