Plastered all over the headlines this morning is the shocking announcement that beloved news anchor, Matt Lauer, has been fired due to some serious sexual harassment allegations from a co-worker. While watching the other anchors announce it on live TV this morning, this one question they asked snagged my attention. I rewound it and listened again. The newswoman and co-anchor of Matt’s said this:
“How do you reconcile your love for someone with the revelation that they have behaved badly?”
She replied to her own question that she didn’t know the answer to that.
But I do.
It’s a hard, seemingly impossible thing.
But it IS possible.
There have been a few times in my life, unfortunately, when someone I love has “behaved badly”, and I have had to work through that very question. People I loved and admired and respected, close friends, people in my church family, and people in my own family. It is, undoubtedly, one of the most difficult things that we, as people, are asked to do. Primarily, because it calls for several actions that go directly against our humanity and sense of self-worth. What that reconciliation requires is a complete and honest examination of self, and then a humbling of the self you just realized. Here are 4 things that I believe are required to answer the news anchor’s question of “How do you reconcile your love for someone with the revelation that they have behaved badly?”
- You must first dig deep inside yourself, and look at all the junk there, every hidden part, and be honest and realize that we are ALL completely capable of behaving badly. And that we do it a lot. You must see the bad inside you, too.
- You must, MUST, realize and accept that your “bad behavior” that you just acknowledged, and the things you struggle with, and the ugliness inside your heart, is not any less “bad” than anyone else’s. It just shows up in different ways. It puts on different costumes, but underneath it is the exact same “bad”. This is hard. It’s maybe the hardest thing. Because it is at this moment that you realize you are on the same level ground with the person you just moments before thought was worse than you. It takes absolute self-honesty and humbling of yourself.
- You must examine if you really ever loved this person to begin with? Did you? Did you really? What is real love? Ask yourself how you want others to love you? Do you want them to stop loving you if you make a mistake? Do you want to have to earn their love? Do you want people to only love you when you are good? If you have kids, is that how you love your kids? Or do you still love them, even when they behave “badly”?
- Once you look honestly at yourself and your heart, and put yourself on the same level as the other person, and ask yourself if you really loved that person before, then comes the real action part of this reconciling of bad behavior...forgiveness. Forgiveness is a choice. You don’t earn forgiveness. And, it is my opinion, that true forgiveness only comes after true love. You can’t really forgive someone you hate. Because, why do you hate them? Because of what they did? Because of who/how they are? Well, then you didn’t really forgive them. Forgive means “to cancel”, it means treat them as if it never happened. So that completely does away with the widely held premise of “I’ll forgive, but I won’t forget.” Forgiveness is a choice. A hard and painful choice. But it is also the beginning of healing, and the first intentional step toward reconciliation.
So, in light of those 4 things, “How do you reconcile your love for someone with the revelation that they have behaved badly?”Well, we must also understand that the word, “reconcile”, basically means “to check for accuracy, restore, account for”. And that is exactly what you have to do to to handle the those moments when people disappoint you by choosing bad behavior. It takes actions on your part. It’s not based off of emotion. You check yourself first for accuracy. You examine YOU before you examine them. You account for your own bad behavior, and admit to it, before you bring into account theirs. You restore the depth of love you have for them that is not based off of their behavior. And you choose to forgive them.
In the best words of a very old, very true, well used passage, you reconcile it by practicing this:
Love is patient (long-suffering) and kind (desperately wants the best for them);
Love does not envy or boast (is not jealous, and does not brag);
It is not rude. (is not blunt to wound, does not want to tear down or dishonor others)
It keeps no record of wrongs (does not hang on, or remember, keep tally of, bad behavior)
It does not delight in evil things, (does not want vengeance or unrighteous things)
but rejoices with the truth. (is joyful at the presence of the Truth of God’s Word)
Love bears all things, (bears=Greek word to cover or protect, 1Peter 4:8 - Love covers a multitude of sins. It protects the heart & character of the other person, no matter what.)
believes all things, (always, ALWAYS, believes and thinks the best first...cause it keeps no record and is not selfish and is patient and covers a multitude of sins, it chooses first EVERY SINGLE TIME to give the benefit of the doubt, is chooses to trust)
hopes all things, (there’s a reason this follows believing...this is loves way of refusing to take any failure as final, it’s sincerely hoping in God’s plan)
endures all things. (holds the line at all cost, it perseveres in face of adversity)
Love never ends. (it abides, it is there, no matter what)
(1 Corinthians 13:4-8)
Basically, love is an action, not an emotion. When someone hurts us, or disappoints us, we want to react based off our emotions and based off what we think they deserve. But real love CHOOSES to do neither of those things. Real love reconciles itself no matter what.
I know that sounds cliche, but it’s true. Real love is always there. Even after “bad behavior.”
What the real question should be is: How do we show grace after bad behavior? The answer?
By continuing to show them real love.
Which is...how God loves us.