It’s easy to love when we’re attracted to a person or thing. It’s a lot more different to truly love those who are annoying or bossy, perhaps not “enemies” but persons whom we have difficulty just being around. But I believe it is when we truly love these persons that we become authentic lovers. I believe that when we are stretched in this way, we become who we are meant to be.
I remember a particular classmate who was really difficult to work with. From the very first day of class, her boisterous, bossy attitude bothered me. At first I tolerated it, but after several incidences where her “know-it-all” attitude offended myself and others, I did everything I could in order to avoid working with her. After nearly two months of watching as classmates slowly lost interest in her, she finally began to figure it out that her dominance wasn’t attracting others.
One afternoon, as I was working diligently in lab, I noticed her working all alone. Her eyes were swollen from tears as she tried to pretend that everything was fine. As I turned around and faced her, I acted as though I didn’t see the tears and gently said to her, “Hey, are you doing okay, would you like to work with us?” At first she refused, but I persisted. I may have a hard time working with her, but we’re adults and I wasn’t going to allow her to feel isolated and work alone.
I’ll admit that working with her was a struggle. I had to continually tell myself that my pride and arrogance had to be set aside. I may feel belittled by her constant corrections, but really, did that matter? Perhaps no one had ever told her how her behavior made them feel. Perhaps no one stuck around long enough to get to know her to feel close enough to share his or her real thoughts. As we worked together, my heart sank; I noticed cut marks all up her arm. Whether recently or not, this girl had at one time been in severe distress; even now, she was crying out for attention- she needed someone to notice her.
It may have been difficult to love her, swallow my pride and accept her blunt, controlling personality, but as I stood before her I thought to myself, “What did it mean to me?” In that moment, love was so much more important. I wasn’t being charitable in order to receive anything in return and my love for her wasn’t out of pity. No, I simply wanted to let her know that she is loved.