Relationships and Hesed

I don’t know how many of you have ever wondered where you stand in your friendships. Is the other person as invested in the relationship as you? Do you sometimes feel like you put in all the effort?

I used to spend way too much time worrying about such things. As a people-pleaser, I have often gone overboard when it comes to friendships, and when I didn’t see the same effort by the other person, I was devastated.

But now I see it in terms of hesed. You can’t worry about what other people think or feel. You can only do your part. And friendship through the lens of hesed means that you be the best kind of friend to people even when they don’t treat you the same. You give and love and serve and bless unconditionally, without any expectations.

Hesed, as you know, is the Hebrew word that boils down to lovingkindness. As I have heard and described it, hesed is when the one from whom you have the right to expect nothing gives you everything.

You treat others not as they treat you in return, but as Jesus treated and loved you. Jesus didn’t quit on you when you weren’t lovable. Jesus didn’t ever decide to leave you when you went after every shiny idol and left Him behind.

Jesus said that as He has loved you, so you are to love others. Not in a doormat kind of way that lets them abuse you and walk over you. You can love unconditionally with discernment and wisdom. But you can still love like Jesus.

I think we need to give ourselves grace for all the times we’re socially awkward or overanxious or slightly overenthusiastic about our relationships. No one’s perfect, but just as Jesus has forgiven us, we need to forgive others — and ourselves.

When you love like Jesus, you always win. Even if the other doesn’t reciprocate, you win because you can’t help but look more like Jesus when you love more like Jesus.

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