Is it possible to love someone and not agree with them on deep beliefs?
At face value, we would probably say “yes” immediately. However, when put into a position to live it out… we might have difficulty showing that love.
Take a minute and think about the relationships you have in your life.
Think about how many people surround you that hold the same basic fundamental beliefs as you.
Think about a family member that has taken a path or made a decision that you just cannot reconcile or agree with.
Think about a friend that announced to those closest to them and this announcement went against your core beliefs.
I will not offer any examples of what these items can be. I am sure you can fill in the blanks with many different ideas, paths, beliefs, life choices, etc.
Now… what was your response?
Did the announcement, discussion on beliefs, action, decision, or even argument cause you to make a choice about your relationship and how you would approach them going forward?
Did they keep you from loving them?
How did your attitude change due to any one of these issues? Did you find yourself talking, calling or responding to the family member or friend less because of the disagreement?
It is a difficult situation. It is so much easier to avoid someone you disagree with even though you love them, than it is to confront the situation, disagreement, belief, and come to a place where you agree to disagree.
The question is, do you really ever stop loving that person? Is it possible to love someone you disagree with on a fundamental level?
My answer is – it really depends on you. It is possible. It comes down to how you define “love” and how you decide to live your life in relationship with others.
LOVE is probably one of the most misunderstood, miscommunicated words in history. When you see someone overcome adversity and forgive others that have wronged them – you will begin to understand that LOVE is more than just a feeling.
Love is an action, a behavior, a daily decision to be committed to another human being no matter what the obstacle in that relationship. There are no criteria that have to be met in order for you to love someone.
“What? I don’t believe you! What about the difference between marriage and friendship? What about the difference between loving your child or loving your spouse?”
Let me explain.
At the beginning of any relationship – whether it is a friendship with a colleague, a neighbor, or whether it is the beginning of a marital relationship or raising a child – you have a choice to make. That choice is to dedicate your time, talents, and a part of your life to spend for the benefit of another.
The only difference in the relationships I just mentioned is how you manifest them. In a marital relationship, the level of intimacy shared will be completely (or should be) from a friend that you spend time with on occasion and share some of your life with. The love you show your children will be stronger in its manifestation especially when it comes to protection.
Each day, whether we realize it or not, we are making a decision to love. Does this mean we can decide not to love others?
That would be correct.
This may be an elementary description of love and some may even think that I am WAY off base. Even though this sounds simplified, its execution is much more difficult.
Bringing us back to the question at hand – Is it possible to love others even if we disagree with some fundamental belief they hold or with a decision they have made?
If you define love by your feelings, then any situation that brings a bad feeling your way will make you second guess your relationship with anyone.
If you define love by your level of commitment to someone, then when a difficult conversation needs to happen and you cannot find any middle ground, agreeing to disagree may be your only option. However, this should not stop you from loving them.
The closest we can get from truly understanding this concept of love as a commitment and being able to love even in disagreement is a parent to a child.
When you have a child, whether by birth or adoption, you raise that child, care for that child, and want the best for that child. When your child disobeys you, or makes a decision that puts them and maybe others in jeopardy – you don’t stop loving them.
You may be disappointed. It may even hurt you to see them make a decision you believe is detrimental to them or their future. But you don’t stop loving them.
You may have to have a confrontation or a difficult conversation. Because of this you may even drive that child farther from you emotionally.
A consistent decision and behavior that shows you love someone even in disagreement will win out in the long term. You may never see eye to eye on whatever it was that tried to come in between you, but loving someone (as a decision or an action – regardless of their response) will release you of any responsibility for their own reactions.
This takes an extraordinary amount of discipline. We would rather have people around us that don’t take as much work to love. You know what I am referring to. These are people who hold the same common core beliefs, have the same values, and may even look like us.
Having others around us that believe what we believe, think in similar ways, and in whom we have much in common is so much easier than developing a friendship or relationship with a friend or family member, that believes in order for you to love them – you need to agree with everything they believe in.
Love is sometimes described as a “two-way street”.
Although I believe a relationship is so much more meaningful when the Love you show others is reciprocated, it is not necessary when it comes to Loving another human being by our actions.
“Love is patient. Love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.”
Put these principles to work in your love toward others. It is a daily continual decision that in the end will benefit you inwardly. What you will find is that you will develop meaningful relationships with many people… and not just those that you are most comfortable being around.
Please forgive me for not posting the last several weeks. Thank you for reading! Please post a comment and share!