by Heidi McLaughlin
Not an edifying Christian question is it? After all, we are supposed to love God and our neighbour as ourselves. But with the polarized opinions and controversy going on in our world, this is a necessary question. I had to face this self-examination in 1993 when I started working as a Comptroller in a VW/Audi Car Dealership.
A tiny, five-foot woman brought out the worst in me. She was a body shop technician who took an instant dislike to me and made my life miserable. I tried to stay out of her way, pretend to like her, and thought that would solve the problem. But God challenged me otherwise. He had me look directly and honestly into my heart by leading me to 1 John 4:20 which says:
If someone says, ‘I love God,’ but hates a fellow believer, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see?” That verse shook me to the core. I fully believed I loved God with all my heart and could not come to grips with the thought that I might actually hate this woman.
For weeks my conversations with God went something like this:
Heidi: “God I don’t really hate her, I just don’t like her behaviour. She is rude, swears, and is loud and I don’t like being around her.”
God: “If you don’t love her, you don’t love me.”
Heidi: “But I do love you, God.”
God: “If you profess to love me, you must also love her.”
Heidi: “God help me. Please love her through me.”
And that’s how it started. I finally recognized that I needed Jesus to love her through me. I realized it’s not about my superficial effort or trying to imitate Jesus. It’s an inside, heart job. It’s about being a channel for God’s love. On my own striving and even trying to do loving things, I failed miserably. Each time. Once I allowed the Holy Spirit to love through me, things started to change.
Things started to change.
Daily I prayed: “God please love her through me” and over time my heart changed. She still irritated me with her rude behaviour but now I saw her differently. She was a struggling single mom barely making ends meet and she was angry at the world. She saw me as having the high salary with the easy life. As God shifted my thinking, He shifted my heart. Over time I extended grace, eventually gave her flowers and hugs. It took two years of prayers but finally, I was able to say, “I do not hate her, in fact, I think I love her.”
God taught me a powerful lesson that is never far from my thoughts these days. With so much hate in the world, we need the Holy Spirit to love through us especially when we disagree. The Holy Spirit is available and ready to answer our prayer: “God help me to love _________________.” Who needs this prayer from you today?