"Then you don't love me" she said defiantly. I asked "What do you mean?" She replied "If you loved me you would support me in this decision." To which I gently replied "It is because I love you that I don't agree with your decision."
There is a trend in our society today that if we don't agree with every decision a person makes and affirm them in every decision we are not being loving. The reality is that true friends need to be free to be honest with each other while not crossing the line of taking the responsibility away from the other or attempting to bully them into another choice. We all need friends who will love us enough to ask the hard questions and still love us even if we make a choice contrary to their opinion.
There are far to many Yes-Men today, people who for their own reasons choose to affirm everything someone else does and thinks in the name of love. Perhaps, they are uncomfortable with conflict or afraid if they said what they really felt, they would lose your friendship. This however, really is the opposite of love because it is - at its root - self-centred. We are more worried about the other being happy with us than to risk telling the truth for the good of the other person.
Sadly, this happens with our many views of God. Someone once said "Humans were made in God's image and we have returned the favour!" As we wrestle with God, we often find ourselves fashioning God in our own image, who affirms what I affirm and this, we think, lends divine legitimacy to what we think and often do.
Also, I think we live in a culture where making a mistake is seen as a terrible thing. Often when we make a mistake it is not "okay, I have done a "bad thing'" but we go to a place where we believe ""I have made a mistake and I am a bad person." Everyone makes mistakes, errors in judgement, we often say and do things that perhaps are not the best but when we realize this to be the case this is an opportunity for wholeness and healing. Unfortunately though, when we think God may not affirm what we have done or a friend disagrees with our choice, many of us default to a place of shame and through the eyes of shame we see the challenge or the correction as a rejection. This then fuels our indignation for grace and our twisted understanding of unconditional love.
It is a terrible smudge on grace and unconditional love to think that God simply winks and smiles at our poor choices; that God must rubber stamp everything we do or else He is unloving. God loves us unconditionally regardless of our performance - good or bad. When God challenges us or corrects us He does not stop loving us. In the safety of His love we can receive correction and challenge without shame or feelings of rejection.
Unconditional love is not affirming another in every decision they make especially when those choices are unhealthy. Unconditional love will risk offending in the name of genuine concern. It will risk relationship for the greatest well-being of the other. To indiscriminately affirm the unhealthy choices of others is not love at all but perhaps the worst kind of fraud.
1) Is it unloving to restrain your child from running into a busy street? To say no when something they are doing could hurt them?
2) If you had an important decision to make and a friend saw a danger in your potential choice, would you want them to tell you?
3) How do you feel when people disagree with you? Is this food for thought or is it an offense?
4) Do you have friends in your life that you have given permission to be completely honest with you?
5) Do you have relationships with others where you feel comfortable to be completely honest?
6) When you feel a sense of conviction from God, do you experience love or a sense of rejection? Here's a tip: If your reaction is to rationalize or "work harder", to fix the problem on your own you are probably operating out of shame and rejection. A more healthy response to conviction is to run to God Himself asking for the grace to make better choices and to heal the underlying issue that led to our making the poor choice in the first place. In healthy Christian spirituality, authentic conviction will always lead us to the cross, back to God, the true healer of our souls. This is grace. This is unconditional love.