Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21 ESV).
Friend to Friend
I picked up the phone from my husband’s hand to put it away after he’d fallen asleep. What I saw on the screen made my heart drop. He was talking to a woman.
The more I looked at their conversation I realized that he wasn’t just talking to this person. They had been together. My husband was having an affair. I wanted to throw up.
That day launched the beginning of a very dark season in my life and my marriage. I begged God to tell me what to do. Does he need to leave? Do I need to leave? What do I say? What do I do?
I only heard one response from God: I want you to love him.
“Lord, you have to be kidding me! You want me to love him? I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but he’s not real lovable right now!”
I know, Jill, and sometimes you aren’t either.
“Lord, you’re right. You love me when I’m unlovable. I don’t know how to do that.”
That conversation with God started me on a journey to learn to love deeper than I’d ever loved before. The world says that love is a feeling. God says that love is an action. A verb. A choice. A decision. I’d only loved someone who was loving me back. I’d only experienced reciprocal love. This was different. Very, very different.
My love lessons began with examining God’s love for me. I took another look at the cross. Jesus didn’t feel like going to the cross for me. He chose to go to the cross. In fact, in the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus cried out, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me, yet not my will but yours be done” (Luke 22:42 NIV).
Jesus made his request, surrendered his will, and then chose love. I had to do the same.
Eventually, God took me to Romans 12:9-21. There were so many direct instructions that God gave me in this set of verses to learn how to love someone hard to love:
- “…outdo one another showing honor.” Verse 10b
- “…be constant in prayer.” Verse 12b
- “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.” Verse 14
- “Never be wise in your own sight.” Verse 16b
- “Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.”
- “…If your enemy is hungry, feed him, if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.”
- “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
This was how to practically love even in difficult situations! Whether my marriage made it or not, it was time for my love to grow up and God was inviting me to that journey.
Sometimes love also has boundaries—but I set those with loving communication. There was a time of separation.
While I didn’t do it perfectly, I was becoming characterized by love more than ever before.
One day after a conversation we had during our separation, my husband said to me, “I don’t get why you have treated me so kindly when I have treated you so horribly?” I thought for a moment, prayed, and then responded, “I don’t know, Mark. It’s unhumanable.”
“Unhumanable?” He responded. “What does that even mean?” We both kind of chuckled at the word.
“I guess it means that it’s love that can only come from God. It’s beyond human capacity but not beyond God working in and through us.” I replied.
In time, my husband left the other relationship, recommitted to our marriage, and surrendered his heart. He later told me that my “unhumanable love” had given him hope in his mess.
God’s “unhumanable love” leads the way for us to give “unhumanable love” to those around us. It’s how we practically overcome evil with good.
We all have “hard to love” people in our lives. Maybe it’s your mother-in-law, a neighbor, a difficult child, or even a friend going through a hard time. What if you looked at the relationship as an opportunity for your love to grow up? While I can’t promise that circumstances will change, I can promise that you will grow exponentially in faith, hope, and love.
Lord, teach me to love more like You do. As Your love pours in me, let it flow through me to others. When love is hard, help me to choose love even when I don’t feel it.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Now It’s Your Turn
Identify a hard-to-love person in your life. Pray for them right now.
Open God’s Word and read Romans 12:9-21. Pick one verse that jumps out at you, write it down, and post it somewhere you can see it regularly.
More from the Girlfriends
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Wow!!!! Thanks for sharing Jill!! I totally get this “love to grow up”. Unfortunately, my marriage ended not too long ago and I never looked at things or circumstances in this way. Thanks for sharing again.
Thanks for being vulnerable and sharing your beautiful, painful story.
Thank you for being real. I will read this again and again along with Roman’s 9. That was unhumanable will be forged into my human hard head.
Wow. I hope I will behave this way moving forward, but it can feel so hard in a world where I either want to defend or isolate myself. Definitely unhumanable. Thanks for sharing
Tonia, I’m sorry for the loss you’ve experienced but glad this provided some encouragement for you.
I have been trying to love my Mother well with very little success. Just when I think I’m doing it better, she says or does something to put me back in that bad place again. I need some of that unhumanable love to love her better.
Victoria, pairing it with Romans 9 is a great idea!
What a beautiful story of redemption. Thanks for sharing your victory story. I too had a not so lovable person, my son in law. He was not what I wanted for my daughter. The more I fought about it the more messy it got. I was praying things like; Lord, remove him from her heart. Lord, send him away, etc. etc. It was not until the Lord showed me I was praying the wrong things. I then changed my prayers too; Lord, help me to love him like you do. Lord change my heart, etc. Until one day (he was not welcome at my home) I told my daughter to invite him over. I wanted to die because I did not feel like seeing him. I could not stand the thought of us being in the same room but I knew it was something I had to do. It was choice I had to make. It’s a long story and it took a few tries but the Lord finally deliver me and I was able to love this young man like one of my own. Today they are married with two children and he calls me Mom. Only God can do such things. Today if you are in a similar situation, please examine your heart and let the Lord operate in your heart. God can is able to change that situation. You only need to act on it and be willing. Don’t wait for the feelings to come. Just do what you know is right. Once you do the Lord will move on your behalf. Yes, he will.
Thank you for sharing your story. It was alarming to me because it was like reading me! My son is contemplating marrying a young lady that has only been kind to me, yet I dislike her. I’m almost certain that they didn’t seek God about this or even seek a divine confirmation from God in their relationship. Also like you, I had been praying that they lose the affection they have for one another. I don’t know how to pray about this situation as I don’t think that they are meant for each other. So I ask for prayer from this group from those who are lead to in Jesus.
Thank you for sharing your story. It was alarming to me because it was like reading me! My son is contemplating marrying a young lady that has only been kind to me, yet I dislike her. I’m almost certain that they didn’t seek God about this or even seek a divine confirmation from God in their relationship. Also like you, I had been praying that they lose the affection they have for one another, as I don’t think they are meant for each other. Asking for prayers from this group from those who are lead to, in Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Jill, thank you for sharing this devotion. I am revisiting this devotion again today. This really have made me look at things so much different now. Love is an action and a choice. A decision. God bless you.