I often say that loving people is difficult. Maybe that's not true for everyone, but it's true for me. It takes hard work for me love people - and I mean loving people in general. People who I know and people I meet in person, it's not hard for me to love them...most of them.
It's people who are on the highway driving like maniacs, or people blocking the aisle at the food store, or the people whose face I'll never put a name with when we pass through life like ships in the night.
Some days, I'll give myself a reminder/pep talk in the car when I first head out. I say, "Today, I'm going to encounter somebody at their worst moment of the day. Maybe they'll be selfish or angry or inconsiderate to me. Maybe it'll be the worst moment of their week, or month, or year...or possibly even the worst moment of their life. In that moment, I want to love that person."
The reason I want to love that person in that moment is, of course, because Jesus loves me in my worst moment of the day, week, year and of my life.
And I don't want to be like the unforgiving servant in Matthew 18. That guy's story didn't end so well.
It's also because I have learned that love is the only precept upon which I can base my life and not worry about it betraying me.
Here's what I mean:
If I put my hope for leading a fulfilling life into money, then money will cause me to fear loss and lack. I'll have run after money my whole life, and I'll never feel truly secure.
If I put my hope for leading a fulfilling life into power, then power will cause me to fear weakness. I'll have to be careful to make sure I grab power whenever and wherever possible, because otherwise others will grab it.
If I put my hope for leading a fulfilling life into pleasure, then pleasure will cause me to fear my inevitably physical failing. It will also cause me to view people as means to an end, and I'll end up with nothing of lasting value.
But if I put my hope for leading a fulfilling life into love, love will never cause me to fear.
What regrets will I have at the end of my life from loving too freely? That others have taken advantage of me? As Fr. Greg Boyle has said, "No one can take my advantage if I give it to them."
The way of love is difficult, but it is the only approach to life which carries no baggage.
So I'm trying to get better at it. To love others when they are inconsiderate, rude or even hateful. Because getting angry, or trying to control others, or seeking to "beat" everyone else by having more money or power...none of it leads to a place of peace.
At times, loving others is difficult, but it is far better than the price of the alternatives.