Saturday, October 29, 2016

Love your enemies. What about your family? Struggles of an Introvert


Lately I have been struggling with loving people. People in my family. People that are very different from me, perhaps even opposite of me, and therefore are a bit more difficult to love than some others who are more "like me." Jesus clearly told us in the bible to love our enemies and bless those who persecute us and speak evil things against us. If we should love our enemies, then how can we not love our family members?


There are certain people in my family...and maybe I can even narrow it down to one certain person, who I am guilty of not loving the way Jesus wants us to love our brethren. Why? I don't know - I think simply because of the differences between me and this person. I feel like we are on the opposite end of almost every spectrum - and even though this person does not do anything to hurt me or bring out negative feelings in me intentionally - I have a hard time tolerating this person's words, actions, values, behaviors, etc.

I like...

  • peace
  • silence
  • deep thinking
  • acquiring knowledge, especially about my faith
  • writing
  • praying
  • homemaking
  • being absorbed in Jesus

Total introvert, is what I am. I could totally move to the ends of the earth with my husband and daughter and just live there peacefully away from people, noise, drama, and depressing news.

Whereas this other person that I am MOST struggling to love, I feel, has the complete opposite characteristics, such as the love for:
  • noise
  • excessive talking (about nothing of substance)
  • drama
  • living superficially
  • acquiring and showing off expensive things
  • always trying to be "better than," in terms of things and looks (again, superficial)

I don't know if this person even knows what it is like to live in deep thought, prayer, peace, silence...to live with a Greater Purpose than just acquiring things and having fun.

What drives me the MOST coo-coo about this person is their constant talking, talking that has no substance, value, meaning. Talking just to talk. Talking to bring attention to oneself. Oh my Lord, help me when this person talks, because I almost cannot control the way my heart feels. After spending even just a part of the day around this person, my internal peace feels very disturbed and my hearts begs to go and spend some time in silence to recover from the noise.

It is soooo hard for introverts (like me) to get along with people like this. Since we stay away from noise, we like to also stay away from noisy people. We like to have social interaction by having meaningful discussions, with one [wise] person at a time.

Now... It would be easier for us to just kind of ignore these people, block them out of our  lives, keep them at a distance, instead of allowing them into our inner circle. But are YOU a better person for it? Are those people better people if they are away from you? IS THIS LOVE?

What is the answer to loving someone whose words to your ears are like screechy nails on a chalkboard?

Again. If Jesus tells us to love our enemies, what excuse do we have to not love our family and friends?

What is the greatest commandment God gave us?
Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Am I anywhere close to that? Nope. Not at this point in my life. That is precisely why I have been struggling so much.  I have been feeling helpless. These feelings of indifference and negativity overcome me every time I see, hear, or even think of these certain persons that are difficult to love. It's like an automatic visceral reaction. It's hard to even fake a smile when I'm around them.

Just because I don't "feel love" for them, doesn't mean I shouldn't "love" them.
Love is not just a feeling.
Love is a verb.
Love is DOING. ACTING. SPEAKING. 
DOING loving things not beacuse of the great feelings we have for the person, but because God tells us to LOVE, on purpose.
SPEAKING kind, loving words to show the person we care about them, even despite our differences.

So maybe once I start loving these people with my words and actions, then the negative feelings and thoughts associated with them will leave my heart?



And what else is key? PRAYER!!! I need to pray, pray, pray for these people. Everytime I start experiencing negative reactions and feelings, I need to offer this person to Jesus and just pray for God to bless them, instead of cursing them in my thoughts.

I am so ashamed of myself for this lately, as it has not gotten any better, and everytime I go to confession - I am confessing the same thing over and over. I think it's time to start being a decent person and put a little more effort into loving people, on purpose. God loves ALL of his children. I should be more like God. I am a mother after all and I know I want my child to be loved by others - I am sure that is how God feels too.

Let me know if any of your have had similar experiences/feelings and what you have done to overcome them.

Thanks,
Agnes


My current attitude, which needs to change. 





Lord have Mercy on me.



6 comments:

  1. I am also an introvert and I have one extended family member that drives me nuts, almost to the point where I have felt hate in my heart. Honestly, I just prayed about it. A lot. I focused a lot of prayer. And now, when we are together it just doesn't bother me. I don't think I truly love them in my actions, which is something to work toward certainly, but I no longer feel immediately full of anxiety and hate. Just keep praying Agnes! Your heart and soul want to do better so you'll get there.

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  2. I get you on the visceral reaction. I have a family member who if I just think about, I get pretty riled up. Prayer. Lots of prayer. Going out of my way to be intentionally nice to this person (so hard). Have you read The Story of a Soul? What you wrote reminds me what St. Therese said about the sister who kept sniffling and was driving her nuts. You pray for me, and I'll pray for you, that we can each love our family the way we should.

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  3. I love your answer to this: prayer! It's so critical to remember to pray for people that drive us crazy. Thank you for the reminder!

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  4. The answer, Dear Agnes, is LOVE. Even though you are frustrated, angry and all the other things, you can love them, no matter what. Prayer works, too, I'll grant you that, but remember Jesus loved us to death and we didn't deserve it. :) Sometimes, though, a little time will make things bearable if not perfect. Prayers to you in your situation.
    Agnes

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  5. I have an aunt like that, except I do love her. She has a good heart, but her mouth just never stops and it's usually gossip which I do try to avoid. Unfortunately, I tend to avoid her. I have recently started praying for her though. I'm not sure why. It just dawned on me one day that I never pray for her.

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  6. It's so critical to remember to pray for people that drive us crazy. Thank you for the reminder!

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