I’ve had many conversations lately around the subject of loving people where they are at when they come across your path. I firmly believe you do have to love people where they are; no amount of preaching, shaming, guilt trips, or anything else will change their hearts. I believe that to love someone where they are you must accept them for who they are and understand that they don’t know what they don’t know. Revelation is everything and without revelation people will do many things thinking they are helping themselves or others when they are doing the exact opposite. Behavior does not change if the heart and mind don’t change. Behavior does not change if beliefs don’t change. Do you see what I’m getting at here?
One of the best ways we can love people where they are at is to listen to understand without judgement and without trying to “fix them.” You can’t fix them anyway, only God can do that. You can’t give a person the “life rulebook according to you” and expect them to whip into shape. You can’t change their heart. I will be the first to say I have not always gotten this right. In fact, I tried the fixing part for years as well as telling people what they “should do”, it always backfired! I’ve also listened to respond, that resulted in a full-blown argument and backfired for both me and the other person. Accepting people where they are is not always easy. However, it is the best thing you can do if you want to help someone or see the world from another’s view point. Accepting people where they are can also change your heart and increase your compassion – this world certainly needs more compassion and less condemnation. Jesus is the best example of someone who accepted people where they were, no matter what that looked like.
If that is loving someone where they are at, what does the counterfeit look like?
The counterfeit may surprise some of you because some of you are living this very thing and not realizing it. You are not bad and you are not unloving, your love has just been used by someone else and you have been used. The counterfeit is simply this, allowing someone to harm you or your family in the name of love and acceptance. This is not something that is intended; it is actually a boundary issue and a survival mechanism that is developed to deal with the pain the relationship offender brings. Allow me to give you an example.
You are a woman and you have fallen for a man who seems to be “the one.” He is kind, courteous, enjoys your family and likes your children – for the most part. You start to notice little things at first; the irritation with the dinner item choice, or the anger over you spending time with friends, or the anger over your choice of clothes, or the irritation with how you clean something. At first, this behavior is few and far between on his part. As time passes, however, he becomes more angry and controlling than kind and more critical than encouraging. You also start to notice he seems to prefer the company of his friends including other female friends to yours. You stay in the relationship because you do love him. He tells you he is going through a rough patch that will iron itself out and he needs your support. He asks you to love him where he is at right now. Yet as time moves on nothing “irons out” and this behavior does not change, in fact it intensifies. He also makes no known intention of changing his behavior toward you and others. You stay thinking he will change if you just love him more and try to keep things “peaceful.” Ladies, this is the counterfeit love that he convinces you is necessary to “love him where he is at.” It’s a trick. He has taken a good thing, a thing intended to help two people grow in their relationship and used it sanction the evil he wants to perpetuate in his relationships with you and others. He expects you to not only accept the evil but live with it. He is unrepentant, unyielding and irresponsible.
I want to pause here and say gentlemen, this could easily apply to a woman you are dating or married to as well. Men can be tricked by women too into allowing evil to run amok. Do you see the counterfeit? Accepting someone where they are at never, and I mean never, means allowing them to harm you. Don’t let them convince you otherwise. Jesus never accepted evil, not once, in his ministry. He died on the cross so we would not have to accept evil either.
**Ladies and gentlemen I get why you stay with them, I really do. I did this myself to no avail. The relationship was a train wreck. When I left, there was no going back because he was not the same person. I did not recognize him. This was not salvageable and no acceptance of anything would have changed that fact. I left beaten down and a shell of the person I was. He had convinced me to accept the evil for far too long. He died, tragically – succumbing to his own demons. Did I love him? Yes. Could I help him? No. Could he love me? Not like he wanted to, he had too many issues he had refused to deal with in his life. I choose not to be angry with myself or him. All things have been made right for him in Heaven.
I implore those of you reading this article, do not accept evil - that is not part of accepting someone where they are! That will only bring you heartache and it could bring death. I have seen this with my own eyes. Do not accept harm to you in the name of love – that is not love and acceptance, that is evil and death! You are worth more than that! You deserve better than that! If you are in this type of relationship, I implore you to separate yourself from this person to determine if repentance will take place. If it will not, do not return. If you are the one expecting counterfeit love, I implore you to repent and get the spiritual and mental health help you need – you can learn how to love, really love.
Please understand my heart for you today. It is my heart’s desire to see people love, flourish, grow and reject evil in all of its forms. May this be your first step to freedom, where ever you are!
With much love,
**For more of my story, see The Road Less Traveled: A Story of Love, Pain, Hope and Everything In-Between, written by Elizabeth Billingsley. You can find it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iTunes, and Audible.com