It seems that this is my year of being intentional about love, because I’ve recently discovered another facet of it that I never really consciously considered before.
I never realised how solitary my life had become over the years since I stopped working in a professional environment. When you work in a professional environment, you’re required to navigate more complex relationships in a more emotionally involved way. That is to say, it takes a level of emotional intelligence to successfully work in a professional environment. Not so much when you’re working in what we Jamaicans call a ‘patty shop’, which is the opposite of a professional environment.
I can make that comparison because I’ve had both experiences now. I navigated the corporate world for almost sixteen years, then I spent time in Indonesia experiencing a true patty shop, and now I’m working in a professional environment again. In the patty shop environment, relationship management was pretty simple; because of the unhealthy emotional environment, navigating those relationships simply meant being pleasant and kind but distant. This reinforced my solitude.
Basically, for two and a half years before I arrived in Yakutsk, I was picking, choosing and refusing who I spent my time and emotional energy on, and relationship management was pretty simple because of that. Now, I find myself fully immersed in life again and, even though I’m still solitary to some extent, I’m having to navigate more complex relationships with more people and this is teaching me things I never consciously considered before.
A few weeks ago, I felt vaguely wronged by someone – not The Inconsiderate Ones, this isn’t about them. I didn’t feel out-and-out hurt, just sort of peeved in a vague way. I felt that the person had dropped the ball on something important then hadn’t been truthful about it. I didn’t know for sure about the truthfulness part; that was my own deduction based on other facts that I know for sure. But it all resulted in this vague sort of feeling wrongness. It wasn’t as strong as feeling offended but it wasn’t a good feeling.
I thought about it and pondered how to proceed. Since love has been at the forefront of my mind for the past few weeks, I knew that my answer lay in that direction but I wasn’t quite sure how to apply it in this instance. I didn’t wrestle with it for long before God gently showed me the answer. It came from Ephesians 2:4 (NASB):
But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us…
Do you see it there? The answer is right there in the sixth word. It’s mercy. God has mercy on us, and it’s because He loves us. His love results in His mercy towards us.
The dictionary defines mercy as, “compassion or forgiveness shown towards someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm.” So basically, mercy is not meting out to someone the punishment that they’ve earned and deserve, and actually letting the offense go. I think the hardest people to show mercy toward are the people who we love, because we have higher expectations of them, which includes them not doing things to cause us hurt. But when I thought about it I had to admit to myself that I hurt God every day with the things that I do and say. And in spite of the hurt I inflict on Him, He shows me mercy every morning when He gives me a fresh, new chance to try all over again to get it right this time. He gives me this gift of mercy because He loves me. In my gratitude for His mercy, how can I do less than pay forward this priceless gift out of love the love I say I have for another person?
To be honest, I don’t think the person thought they needed mercy from me – perhaps just as I didn’t know before three years ago that I need mercy from God – but in my heart, I knew that I had to give it. So I thanked God for His gentle reminder, wiped away the vague feeling of being wronged, and built a bridge of mercy. As it is between God and me, the person will likely never know that the bridge I walked across to get to them was built of mercy but that’s OK. I’ve learned another love lesson and I’ve done the right thing, and that’s what matters to me.