LOVING WHEN IT'S HARD.
A league of their own is a film about the women's professional baseball league that existed during World War 11. At one point in the movie, the star catcher for the Rockford Peaches, Dottie Hinson (played by Geena Davis), tells the manager, Jimmy Dugan (Tom Hanks), that she's quitting the team to go home.
"It just got too hard," she says.
"It's supposed to be hard," Dugan says. "If it weren't hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great."
Jesus spoke similar words to his disciples when he said,
If you love only those who love you, what good is that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect (Matthew 5:46-48).
Dugan was talking about baseball, of course, and Jesus was talking about loving those who are hard to love. But the message is strikingly similar.
Are you having trouble loving that kid who's made fun of you ever since you were both in third grade? It's supposed to be hard. If it weren't hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great.
Having a hard time loving that teacher who gives you homework every night, even on weekends? It's supposed to be hard. If it weren't hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great.
Finding it tough to love the coach who won't play you, the neighbor who yells at you, the former friend who stabbed you in the back? It's supposed to be hard. If it weren't hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great.
Our tendency, of course, is to excuse or explain away our unloving attitudes and actions toward such people because it's so hard. But love isn't right only when it's easy; it's right when it's hard, too. In fact, loving such people-the ones who are hardest to love is not only hard, it's impossible without God's help. And God knows that. That is why "he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love" (Romans 5:5). As we spend time with him and rely on him, he will help us do the right thing and love even those who are hard to love.
REFLECT: Whom do you find easy to love? Whom do you find hard to love? Think of something you can do this week to act in love toward these people, both those you find easy to love and those whom you have a hard time loving.
PRAY: "Thanks, God, for your Holy Spirit, who makes it possible for me to love others."