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
If you’ve experienced any kind of broken trust in your marriage, Jill’s free Rebuilding Trust Roadmap will help you know the steps to rebuilding trust and healing the hurt.
© 2023 by Jill Savage. All rights reserved.