A couple of weeks ago, I received an email that rankled me, and I mean really rankled me. I sat there fuming, stewing like a red tomato, typing away at 92 words per minute what was intended to be a righteously scathing response. I read and re-read my email, hunting for grammatical errors and typos (because righteously scathing emails are less effective when they’re poorly written). Then a small thought came blinking into my consciousness: I was made for love.
Ugh, I thought. I rationalized with myself, thinking, Well, part of loving is being honest, and I’m being honest. But it also occurred to me that part of loving is being kind. So I read and re-read my email, paring down and hacking off entire paragraphs. What was originally designed to be righteously scathing became simply righteous. It looked ready to send, but the small thought persisted: I was made for love.
I whined internally, What now?! I had gone full Hemingway on my email, and by the time I was done it was half its original length. It was concise, mature, fair, and devoid of its original radioactive rage. Then it occurred to me that the person who sent the rankling email communicates much better in spoken conversation; in fact, this was probably the root cause of the miscommunication to begin with. So I decided to call the person and pursue the confrontation over the phone. Unfortunately, my call went to voicemail. So I was left with a choice: send the email now and be done with speaking my piece, or wait to speak to the person face to face, which wasn’t going to be possible for another four days. The choice seemed pretty simple – send the email now and move on. But the small thought wouldn’t leave me alone: I was made for love.
Most people have heard of the famous scripture from 1 Corinthians 13, which talks about love:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails.
Love isn’t the right choice because it puts me on some higher moral ground. Love is the right choice because it brings peace where there would otherwise be discord, friendship where there would otherwise be enmity. As a human being, I am certainly entitled to fight for myself, to defend my position, and to seek reparation when I am wronged. But when we love, we don’t just fight for ourselves – we fight for one another. We don’t just defend our individual positions – we defend the relationships that bind us. We don’t just seek reparation for wrongs done to us – we seek to be reconciled with each other, to forgive and be forgiven, to heal and be healed. The bottom line is that I was made for love, and not just love for the people who please me, but also the people who rankle me. If I had sent that email, it might have made me feel a little better, but it wouldn’t have healed what was broken between us. And my faith is pretty clear about love: it always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Rankled hearts are not exempt.
So I waited for four days to confront my offender. When the time finally came for the confrontation, the person who hurt me was quick to show humility, which humbled me in turn as it revealed my own shortsighted pride. I entered that conversation expecting to bestow mercy, but I was surprised to find myself also on mercy’s receiving end. I may have been right to be upset, but the satisfaction of being right pales in comparison to what I received instead – peace, reconciliation, and renewed friendship. That small persistent thought was God’s merciful voice in my ear, reminding me of the greater things for which my heart and soul were made: I was made for love.