I just got back from a meeting where I was cussed out and berated severely – definitely not an enjoyable experience, but it was not the first time and unfortunately it probably won’t be the last. My intentions were good. I simply wanted to convey sincere care and concern. What I received in return took me completely off guard as I am sure my expression visibly demonstrated. Usually when I convey care and a desire to pray for someone, I am warmly received with openness. I did not think this encounter would be any different. It is true that I don’t always see eye to eye with the person in which I was conversing; however, I did not think that our disagreements were any cause for alarm in this case. I was naïve. No, that is an understatement; I was extremely naïve. Unbeknownst to me there was a great deal of bitterness and anger underneath the surface and my words… “Hey, I just want you to know that I care and I am praying for you” brought all of it to the surface. It erupted like a volcano and it wasn’t pretty. The truth is they did not believe that I cared…AT ALL. My words meant nothing because they already believed in their heart that I was not genuinely concerned about them. Their response to me was harsh – shockingly harsh. Their words were acrimonious and poignant. “I don’t want you to care about me…” I was honestly befuddled by it all – what do you do when you are told not to care about someone? For a moment I was offended, and then the longer I stood there and endured the tongue lashing I realized something. Somewhere along the way I had failed. It was not deliberate mind you…completely accidental really. For whatever reason I had failed to accurately convey real love. Is it possible to love someone that you disagree with? YES! Is it possible to love someone that does not like you? YES! It is possible…but let’s all admit it…it is definitely NOT easy. The easy thing to do is to simply do nothing. Doing nothing got me where I was tonight though – that is not a good place to be. I suppose I have two choices right now. I can either get angry at the person that treated me with contempt or I can learn from this moment and I can choose to love others better even when it is not easy to do so. I am not sure if this relationship can be salvaged. I like to think it can be, but most likely it won’t happen for a variety of reasons. Jesus told us to love our friends (1 Peter 1:22); he told us to love our neighbors (Galatians 5:14); and he told us to love our enemies (Matthew 5:44). I wish that my genuine care had been known tonight – it wasn’t; and that has served as a very vivid reminder that what I do on the outside matters – how I love matters. God help me to love better…and if it be your will I would rather not get cussed out again!