On more than one occasion, I find myself angered by the nasty stuff people say and do. It doesn't matter whether it's friends, acquaintances or strangers - people inevitably disappoint. When that happens, I fill up my private journal with all sorts of creative invective. I tell people what I think of them. Then I close my book so that no eyes but my own ever see the penned firestorm that I rain down upon the stinkers who try to ruin the good aroma of my life.
Should my fierce torrent remain for my eyes only? A kind of vent therapy that gives me a healthy release and prevents me from ruining all my relationships? Probably, but sometimes I'm not so sure. Is there any benefit to dropping the verbal hammer on someone who deserves it?
Humans in general, and Christians in particular, recognize that love is the overarching quality to emulate. It's the better path, but I'm also beginning to question the wisdom of reducing one's belief system to a single maxim or Bible verse.
I'm not sure the perplexities of life we're meant to be navigated using such a singularly focused map. As life unravels before us, there will always be complexities and exceptions and exigencies. There will be scenarios not-withstanding and situations that require creative and unorthodox solutions. It's good to have a rule or two that guide your life, love is the best one in my estimation, but it is unhealthy and unwise to box life in with unyielding and inflexible constraints. If you are a football coach and have only one play in your playbook, you will lose the game. One play is not enough to be successful in life either.
Surely this must be what Ecclesiastes's writer was driving at when he captures the full spectrum of life in stunning poetic fashion.
When life is lived with all options on the table, it becomes a challenge to discern when a specific action might be right and when it will be wrong. Most of us, especially the religious among us, feel uneasy in a world of more malleable morality. I understand and share the discomfort.
Some will try to steer the straying flock back to the path of love, by saying things like "hurting that person was the most loving thing you could do for them" or "that's tough love," But I don't buy it. Many of these actions don't fit within the rubric of overarching love, no matter what we say.
Maybe it's time to stop trying. Sometimes the right thing to do doesn't have much to do with love. But that's going to have to be ok. That's life.