Loving others is a messy road with unmarked shoulders, outdated maps, illegible street signs, and reckless drivers. Receiving love on this route is subject to the same lack of clarity. I chaff when I sense another's pain and desire to come along side them, take some of the pain, and give them hope without inadvertently contributing to their sadnesses by employing ineffective attempts at loving intentionally.
Church leaders are subject to this every day, on and off the job. I've made a point of asking such people how they manage to deal with the weight of others' pain without collapsing under good intentions and brokenness. The only answer that has ever made sense to me was delivered by a man who seems to always have genuine joy at the forefront of his interpersonal dealings. He explained to me that the only areas he moved forward in were those where he felt compelled to by the Holy Spirit. Now, I'm a big fan of the Spirit, largely because he doesn't appear to work from a throne, or a rule book, or in guidelines that would be easily filed or categorized.
Faith is huge in this arena, since listening to that still small voice doesn't guarantee witnessing the positive outcome of those actions. And that's where pain comes in again. Some people are nearly impossible to love because all they know to do is to push people away. Even when reaching out to such a person, guided by the Spirit, its awfully painful to get that virtual shove.
That's where I'm grateful that He also speaks to others. Unlikely people who could only have become a portion of my circle through the goodness of God. People who speak the truth- relevant to the situation I'm struggling with ;but the bearer of good news is unaware of.
And now in less shrouded ways, I know that the e-mail I sent this week (which was sent back with a caustic reply) DID come to a positive end. I know that the relationship that pained me this week was injected with grace by someone who could not have known, but who understood as precious few do. I know that the visit I craved with my aging papa came to me this week when I was too slumped to go to them.
And I know again that God is love. And although there are unreliable road signs, I'm pretty confident in my navigation system.