Loving The Best and the Worst

My friend Rachel Maizes wrote a beautiful piece in the New York Times this past week about her relationship with her dog. I’m clearly not the only one who was moved by Rachel’s sharing; her piece was among the most e-mailed articles in the past week and generated over 500 comments on the NYT site.

The paragraph that most moved me was this one:

It’s easy to love a well-behaved dog. It’s harder to love Chance, with his bristly personality and tendency toward violence. Yet in the end, I measure the success of my relationship with Chance by its challenges, because if I can’t love him at his most imperfect what use is love?

Take out “Chance” and insert “people” and Rachel makes a point that is true beyond her relationship with her dog.

It is, of course, easy to love those who are good to us, who don’t make trouble for us. It is a lot harder to love those with “bristly” personalities or who otherwise create difficulties for us or rub us the wrong way.

We would do well to ask ourselves the same question Rachel asks: If we can’t love others at their most imperfect (which is, after all, the way God loves us), what use is love?