Tag Archives: nouwen

Love practiced among people who love poorly

“Forgiveness is the name of love practiced among people who love poorly. The hard truth is that all of us love poorly. We need to forgive and be forgiven every day, every hour — unceasingly. That is the great work of love among the fellowship of the weak that is the human family.”

– Henri Nouwen

When I screw up, I find it comforting to remember that we are all “people who love poorly;” it isn’t just me. And when I’m the angry, offended one, it’s good to remember that I love poorly all the time.

Maybe this sounds cynical, but I don’t think you should be surprised when people in my life let you down. They are imperfect, and they will fail. This thing is, if someone really loves me, they will eventually realize/acknowledge that they hurt me, and they will regret it. Unfortunately, that can take a while. If I start to forgive them before they even ask for it, things can begin to heal right away.

I also keep coming back to that last phrase: “the fellowship of the weak that is the human family.” I assume so often that everyone has it together but me. Everyone is strong and in control but me. Everyone has more money and better hair. Honestly, I feel like this all the time, probably (in part) because it gives me a good excuse to think mostly about myself.

But it’s not like that. Everyone is weak. Everyone needs to be forgiven, and encouraged, and lifted up, and loved. God is taking care of me (usually through other people); it’s my job to take care of my neighbor.